Project Love – Accepting Love

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Well readers by the title you can guess why the post regarding Friday was so late coming out, I’ve been sick. It started on Friday, was horrible yesterday, slept most of the day, and seems to be getting more tolerable today. A friend of my assured me this morning that it only lasts 4-5 days. I’m on day three so I see a light at the end of the tunnel and who knows maybe I will be spared of having to endure another day or two. One can only pray.

I live alone and needed help so I called a friend and she got me some much needed supplies to get me through this. Her help was so greatly appreciated! This time it was my opportunity to accept love. I had been able to do nothing much other than sleep and wake the entire day. By the time she was there I was feeling very ill and not sure if I needed to go to urgent care or not, however, the food and drinks she brought did wonders! She did all of this even though earlier in the week someone had knocked out one of the windows of her car and she had been waiting for the guy to come and repair it. It had been hours since the time he said he would be there so she came to my rescue. “Love…is not self-seeking,…” 1 Cor. 13:4a-5b She indeed was doing anything other than being self-seeking! Such kindness and thoughtfulness was overwhelming! I felt so cared for and so loved and unbelievably grateful for her kindness and selflessness!     

Who knew that when this started 4 days ago that it would begin a lesson on accepting love. I have never felt worthy of love. My youth group used to go to a concert/service where there was an alter call every Friday night and every Friday night I would feel compelled to go down to the alter to ask Jesus into my life. I had the misguided impression that God would sooner see fit to allow Hitler into heaven than me a 13 year old. I know now that if Hitler should’ve accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior he would be my brother. Which (forgive me Lord) still is a difficult thing to wrap my head around. (I definitely still need a lot of work.) One of the reasons why I’m so excited about #projectlove because I know it is going to do a work in me and I hope that it does a work in others. As far as the alter calls were concerned I finally realized with the help of a friend that I wasn’t trusting my Savior. So I decided to put my faith in Him and never ask Him again. However, when it comes to accepting love I still have a hard time. I have difficulty believing that I’m deserving of it. I married my ex-husband because I thought no-one else would want me and I better get it while the getting was good, which to be honest it wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong I did care for him just not like someone that should marry. I told myself I did. Which was a lie. When I watch, really watch, people who are in love they know all about their beloved! I couldn’t even tell you what beer he liked. I would bring a different one home each grocery trip. There were a number that he drank so I’m not sure if he liked a few and I just never learned them or he just didn’t have a favorite and drank whatever was available at the time. I know not very present on my part. Not a very proud time in my life.

I have learned that I am worthy of being loved first by my LORD and then others (not necessarily a husband). The challenge for me is the head knowledge of knowing I’m worthy of being loved and accepting the love. Which when I think about it is odd because although I am truly happily single for 28 1/2 years. Yes, I got married and divorced at a young age, all I’ll say is both are in my 20’s and no it wasn’t a really short marriage. Receiving love or maybe rather believing that it is real has been difficult for me the majority of my life if not all of it. As with all stories it starts with my past, which wasn’t a pretty one. But praise God, He has brought me out of all of that and blessed me beyond my wildest dreams. I’m still in the process of accepting love. This is something that I have been working on for decades now and I am much better than I was when I was younger yet I may never be done with this lesson, until I die. I know for certain that if I do complete this lesson a new one will be waiting for me. It seems as though this particular onion has many layers.

We can be certain that God loves us time and time again in Ps. 52:”8 (NIV),  Hosea 11:1 (NIV) , Malachi 1:2(NIIV), 2 Thess. 3:5 (IV) all speak of God’s love. Of this we can be certain that God does love us! There is no and if’s or buts about it Ps. 61:7 (NIV) “May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever; appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him.” God so loves us that the maker of the universe & every cell & atom in it (just try and wrap your head around that), who placed each one in prefect harmony, wants you to be enthroned in His presence! How’s that for being excepted?!!! It makes me down right giddy. And of course there is always John 3:16 “For God so loved other world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” I don’t know of any father that would do that. Here it is Father’s Day and we can be certain that no matter what kind of father you had or if your father is no longer with you, you do have a Heavenly Father that loves you unconditionally! Yep! Just as you are warts and all! No matter what you do He is in the business of forgiveness. All we need to do is ask and accept His love.

My hope for you is that if you struggle with accepting God’s love or the love of other’s that you would be encouraged and open yourself to accept what you do truly deserve and that we may journey together at accepting love.

Joy – A Fellow Sojourner In Christ                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

 

      

Who Is Your Identity?

Who are you?  Are you identifying yourself by your profession?  Perhaps you are identifying yourself as a husband or wife and putting everything you have into that relationship.  Perhaps your a mom and you are identifying yourself as a mom or in how your children behave or have matured and grown up?  Are you a student and identify yourself as such? Do you allow your grades to speak for who you are?  If you are identifying yourself in any of these ways or any other way other than in respect to Christ that is not your true identity.

I have mistakenly looked for my identity in nearly all of these except for mom, since God never blessed me with children.  When I was put on disability and lost my identity of a professional and it was very difficult when asked what I do to answer the question.  You see here I was (if I remember correctly) in my early 30’s and out of the workforce.  What was to be my identity?

I have had and continue to have the identity of daughter and sister but that never seemed enough.

When I went into early retirement as was suggested to call it by some, I became a student and although I love learning and am fairly good at it.  This too was not enough.

Actually being put on disability was a blessing because I had been so busy with work that I hadn’t realized how empty I was.  It was sometime after that and not without heartache and dealing with my pride that I came to realize that my identity comes from Christ and being in Christ.

Galatians 3:26-29 says this about our identity;

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you all are one in Christ Jesus.  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.

If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior your identity belongs to Christ.  As you can see in Galatians 3:26-29 we who have been baptized into Christ have clothed ourselves with Christ.  It is Christ in us that the world must see and who we must identify ourselves with.

As the scripture says there is no distinguishing among us. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you all are one in Christ Jesus.”  In today’s terms: Their is neither Baptist nor Methodist nor Lutheran nor Evangelical nor Charismatic nor Catholic, poor nor rich, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  There also isn’t doctor nor plumber, teacher nor homemaker, wife nor aunt, student nor retired.  There are followers of Christ which have clothed themselves in Christ Jesus.

The above list of denominations and non-denominational churches is incomplete I just listed what came to mind and am sure given time I could think of a number of other to add to this list.  Most importantly, instead of the different denominations and non-demominationals waring of non-fundamentals of the faith, let us do as the Bible teaches us and find our common ground and be united in that.  We are letting these insignificant things (in comparison to the fundamentals of our faith) to be used by the enemy to pull the Church (followers of Jesus) apart rather than being unified.  This is exactly what he wants because it destroys our witness to the world.  Church wake up!  It is time we take back what the enemy has cunningly got us to let go of.  There should be unity in love of the Church this is what will attract unbelievers to us.

When you find your true identity – either a follower of Christ or not.  One of three things will happen.

  1. Knowing your identity in Christ as a believer and follower that place in your heart that you were trying to fill with other identities will find peace and wholeness.
  2. If you are not a believer or follower of Christ but you heed the tugging in your heart that this could be the answer to that whole you feel – pray this simple prayer: Lord I see myself as the sinner I am and ask You to forgive me of all my sins.  I accept what Jesus did on the cross as a sacrifice for me so that I might have forgiveness of my sins and fellowship with you.  Lord help me to live the new life that I’ve just begun and bring believers around me to help me grow in You. Amen!
  3. If you are not a believer nor follower of Christ and you choose not to say the above pray and let Christ into your life, you can look through every profession, toy, relationship, or book other than the Bible and you will never fill that God shaped whole you feel.  You know the emptiness that nothing seems to fill.  It’s there for a reason.  God put it there so you would choose Him.  He also gave you free choice so you can run from Him all you want, He’s a gentleman He won’t force Himself on you.  But let me worn you the longer you run the harder your heart becomes.  The harder your heart becomes the less likely you are to turn to Him.  The reason I mention this is that hell is a very real place and if you don’t like things here on earth you have no idea what awaits you separated eternally from a loving and holy God.  It scares me to think that anyone I know would be sent to such a horrible place.  So please reconsider God’s gracious gift of forgiveness.  We’ve all sinned and fallen short of what God in His righteousness requires which is perfection.  Only one man ever walked the earth and did not sin, and that man is our Lord and Savior  Jesus Christ.

So let’s stop looking in all the wrong places and seek out Christ in the Bible and learn about Him so that we have a better understanding of our true identity.

Joy – A Fellow  Sojourner & A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

How Do You Look At The Details Of Your Life?

I love this from Beth Moore in her, “Breaking Free: Day by Day” devotional, this was found on 8/29:

We have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us.  –   2 Corinthians 4:7

Here is my personal check list of Scriptures and evaluations that I seek to apply to my life on a regular basis.

  • Is my most important consideration in every undertaking whether or not God could be glorified? (1 Cor. 10:31)
  • Do I desire God’s glory or my own? (John 8:50,54)
  • In my service to others, is my sincere hope that they will somehow see God in me? (1 Pet. 4:10-11)
  • When I am going through hardships, do I turn to God and try to cooperate with Him so He can use them for my good and for His glory? (1 Pet. 4:12-13).

These really got me thinking about the motives behind what I do on a daily basis.  Do I follow the four bullet points that Beth talks about or am I more concerned about myself.  To be honest I’d say it is not as good as I would like it to be.

I want to be used by God not just sit on the sidelines and watch while others have all the fun.  I want others to see God in me.  As a matter of fact that is what I want them to be consumed by God when they look at me.

I want my hardships to be used for my good and for His glory.  That is one of my ultimate goals.  It is my ultimate work goal.  I want to encourage people as much as possible that no matter what it is that they have gone through, our God is greater and He will bring you through to the other side and you will be the better for it.

If I had known nearly 25 years ago what I know now: 1. I never would have believed it possible.  2. It would have saved me a ton of misery if I could have wrapped my mind around it.  Nearly 25 years ago I had made my first of too many to count attempts at suicide.  Now I know that that is not an option for me.  I have better coping skills with the illnesses of Bi-polar and General Anxiety Disorder.  Unless I’m sick I keep my appointments with my doctors and am very strict with myself about taking meds.  I’m getting better about keeping to a stringent sleep schedule, although at times I fail.

Whatever your Achilles heel is, it is my strong belief that you too can live a victorious life, are you going through a ugly divorce?  Allow God to teach you and bring you through.  There are always lessons to be learned no matter what it is that we are going through.  Dealing with issues of abuse?  God can help you there too.  He can help to show you that you’re not the one to blame and that in due time with healing forgiveness can be given for your benefit but that takes time so don’t feel bad if you’re not ready yet.  Going through a loss.  God is the Great Comforter and He longs to comfort you in a way that no human can be.  Once He has comforted you, you will have a more intimate relationship with Him than ever before.

The list could go on and on but it is my fervent hope that you get the idea and whatever you are dealing with the Holy Spirit has already brought it to mind and how He would like to be there for you if you would just trust Him and release yourself to Him.  He is called the Comforter for a reason.  Allow Him to do what He is here to do.

Joy – A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

Life’s Roller Coaster

Sitting in an emergency room waiting for a friend who is sick and in pain to find some relief.

I feel so helpless as she lays there in tears, throwing up.  I pray the doctor comes soon but is that really adequate for all she’s going through? My mind goes back to other hospital trips when not much was offered.  “Lord, please let them find the source of pain and be able to fix it!” “Father she has no insurance and no income today please provide for her and stop this constant pain.”

So many different people in pain here, “Lord, help them all!”

Thank You Lord she sleeps! Sweet slumber eases her pain.  Thank You Lord for the pain medication.

This is truly humbling Lord, there is absolutely nothing I can do.  My job is done for the time being, I brought her here, she sleeps and I sit and wait for the doctor and his results. “Lord, please let him have some positive answer as to how to stop this for her.

This is the uncomfortable part of life’s roller coaster the not so much the fun part.  May be for you that’s the time when the coaster is chugging up the high incline and your nerves are at a peak in anticipation of the drop to come.

May be there is just no part of the roller coaster that you like.  May be you have avoided them all your life terrified of them.  I hear you, life can be terrifying as well.  Those of us that like control, like myself have to face the fact that with life there is no control and that is a very uncomfortable place to be.  But if we give God the control and allow ourselves to let go and let God we may just find that we can start to tolerate roller coasters driven by God.

May be flying free is freeing for you and the fun part but the slow chug chug chug up to the pinnacle just before the drop is the anxiety riddling part.  That’s how it is for me.  Once I’ve given in to the dips and loops and inclines the anxiety of the beginning of the ride is overrun by laughter and enjoyment.  Now in our life those uncomfortable times of the roller coaster, the chug for the next set of dips or the dips themselves are not times of laughter and enjoyment but they can be times of peace.  If we turn to God at all times in our life.  Whether we find ourselves in hospitals with friends, or worshiping at church,  when we yield ourselves to God, He will give us the peace we desire.

Notice something about roller coasters?  You are never in them by yourself.  Just as my friend had me with her in the hospital we both had someone else there that is there for us all the time.  God never leaves you in the roller coaster alone.  If you invite Him into your life He is there all the way.  Never will He desert you.  You never have to feel alone again.  Just ask Him into your heart, repent of your sins, and accept what Jesus Christ did on the cross for you.

Just as I release to the roller coaster, if we will release to God’s perfect will for us, our journey on the roller coaster will be to our benefit.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  –  Jeremiah 29:11-13

The Lord has plans for you and for me.  Those plans are to prosper and not to harm.  Please don’t get me wrong here, I truly believe prosper is a relative term.  Meaning that whatever is in God’s will for you to do He will cause it to prosper.  That doesn’t mean that you will necessarily become monetarily rich.  I have been doing my best to live out God’s will in my life and I am the last person you would define with worldly wealth.  But I am rich in things the world knows nothing about.  I have a faith stronger now than it has ever been.  I know no matter what that my God will take care of me.

God has brought me through much and I feel confident that I am able to handle things that once during my life would have overwhelmed me.  And I am able to listen to my Father’s voice and to head His instruction so that I might go the way He wants me to, which is for my benefit.

God wants to bless us but He also wants all of us.  In Jeremiah He promises that we will find Him when we seek Him with all our heart.  Our God is a jealous God and there is no room for anyone but Him to fill that whole in your soul.  He wants to be the love of your life.  Before your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend/or addiction.  God wants all of you and then from the fullness of God can you give to others or overcome your addictions.

The Gift of Gratitude – A Short Story Part 3

Jack looked around the room and his gaze fell upon a women that appeared mostly toothless, with a weather beaten face and straggly matted grey hair. In his world this woman would have been one of the most unwanted and unaccepted or even unnoticed because until just recently he did his best to make these people invisible to him. With all of her grotesqueness she had something more that attracted her to him. First there was a sound. The harder he listened the more he realized that she was singing a happy song. Then it was that toothless smile that not only light up her face but radiated all around her. The last thing that drew him to her were her eyes. They shone as bright as the sun and twinkled like stars in the heavens and danced like a youth 1/10 her age. They drew him in to her in awe and wonderment. Never had he seen eyes like hers. He walked to her purposefully and quickly as not to miss her for fear she may leave before he could ask his questions. He introduced himself and asked her what her name was, she replied, “My name is Esther. Is there something on your mind Jack?” Well, that was easy he thought this fascinating woman seemed also able to see into his soul and know that there was something on his heart. “Yes there is something I want,” started Jack “I’ve been noticing how happy you are I might even use the word grateful, yet as near as I can tell you have nothing. How can that be? What is it that fills you with this joy that I so plainly see on you?” “Oh, Jack,” Esther replied, “this indeed is a worthy question. I would be most honored to tell you of the joy I’ve found. But first I must know are you pressed for time?” At this he wasn’t sure, he had no idea of his companions plans for there evening together. He looked quizzically at Gab and he smiled back and nodded. “No,” replied Jack, “I’m not pressed for time. I’m all yours Esther.” “I’m glad to know that,” said Esther, “it’s been a long path and it takes a while to tell.”

“You know I wasn’t always the woman that you see. I had a grand house with upstairs and downstairs servants. I had grounds men for the gardens and the pool and tennis courts and a chauffeur to drive me and one for my husband and they did all the upkeep on the many cars we had. With all of that Jack I lacked the most important thing I lacked gratitude for what I had and I had no joy. My heart was empty and cold. When my husband was jailed for embezzling from his own company I lost it all in a matter of days. When I lost my wealth I lost what friends I thought I had. They were there for the good times but when the bad times hit they were nowhere to be found. The hard heart that I had so cautiously crafted and built at first became even harder when I started blaming all of my losses on my husband. In an attempt to distance myself from him and the losses I listened to some ill advice and divorced him. While in prison and with nothing to look forward to since now I had turned my back on him and not stayed true to my vows of for better or worse he killed himself. The news of this was the beginning of my undoing and a massive change began to take place in my heart. I hurt for the first time at what I had done to my husband and how I had abandoned him. With no where to go and no friends I soon found myself on the streets. This was a truly humbling experience considering where I had come from and how far I had fallen. I had no one, nothing or so I thought. I soon learned that there was a community of hurting people feeling much the way I was feeling here. In the shelters I quickly learned the ones to ask questions of for help with survival skills. So I survived at first with a bitter heart at all I had lost. But as I began to look around me I noticed that there were those that were as equally as bad off as I was that were doing more than surviving. This made me very curious. How could anyone in our circumstances do anything other than merely survive? I wanted to know, as I suspect you want to know, how anyone could find joy in such a place? Am I right?” Jack nodded. Esther smiled her eyes dancing all the more, “This is a true mystery. One I’m honored to share with you. I finally asked my new friends how they could be what appeared to be joyful in such lowly circumstances. Their first answer was but one word – gratitude. All I could think as I left them is what do they have to be grateful for? What do any of us here have to be grateful for? This answer at first angered me more than comforted me. I walked away with an even harder heart than I had had before. I thought these people are truly nuts. I’ve wasted my breathe on a bunch of lunatics! I stayed away from them for a while and soon found myself in the company of some lost souls that really were truly out of their right mind. This got me thinking. If my former friends really were not lunatics they must have had something with this “gratitude” thing. But I was still at a loss as to how to possess it. So I eventually returned to my friends and they welcomed me back with open arms. Which made me realize that they had something more than gratitude they also had acceptance, what I would later discover was love. These were qualities that my friends of the grand old days didn’t truly possess. I became more and more attracted to them. But where was all this coming from in the midst of poverty and utter despair?

Who Does God Want?

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For a long time I felt too bad to be accepted by God.  Surely He would rather have anyone on the face of the earth rather than me.  I never realized at the time that I was being prideful.  Thinking that I was so bad that the God of the universe could not accept me.  In my sick mind I even thought that He’d accept Hitler before me.

That is not how God works however.  He doesn’t take the deserving.  If He only took the deserving, no one would be accepted because no one is deserving.  The tinniest of sins is still sin and God can not look on the sin for He is a holy God.  Holiness can have nothing to do with unholiness.

What He is looking for is someone humbled by the realization that their sin makes them undeserving of God’s grace.  He is also looking for someone who will admit that sin and ask for forgiveness for that sin, by the blood of Jesus Christ.

Once I understood that Jesus actually came for sinners and loved sinners, I came to the decision of turning my life over for last time to God.  It had been my pattern in the past to go to every alter call that I heard but since I never felt worthy, I never felt saved.

Salvation has nothing to do with feelings and has everything to do with the action of accepting what Jesus did on the cross, turning away from your sin and trusting God for your salvation.

If people think they have no need for God, they are suffering from the same thing I was, pride.  When people think that  they don’t need God, they misunderstand what God is all about.  As mentioned before God is Holy and He can not look on unholiness.  No matter how good a person may think they are they have missed the mark or sinned, which is what missing the mark means.  There is not a person on this earth that is perfect.  There was one once, His name was Jesus Christ.  He lived, died, and rose from the dead to pay the penalty of our sins.

So who does God want?  He wants all sinners to come to Him.  Since everyone sins that includes everyone.  His love is that big.  His compassion, grace and mercy that amazing and inclusive.

The Complete Serenity Prayer

This has been a blessing to me, more than I can express. I’ve said it so many times I have it memorized. It has gotten me through some of my darkest days and it is my fervent hope that it is an encouragement to you.

“Serenity Prayer

God, grant me the serenity

to accept the things I can not change,

the courage to change the things I can,

and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time,

enjoying one moment at a time;

accepting hardship as the pathway to peace;

taking, as Jesus did this sinful world as it is,

not as I would have it;

trusting that You will make

all things right if I surrender to your will;

so that I may be reasonably happy in this life

and supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen.”

By Reinhold Niebuhr