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Lora’s Lesson

If you had asked Lora she would have told you that there was nothing wrong with her. In her eyes she was perfectly alright and in no need of change. But if you asked those close to her they might have said, “She can be cold and prickly.” Or “Sometimes she seems rather hard.” Only one person really might have understood her. One who had been so close at one time that instead of calling each other friends they referred to one another as sisters. But Lynn had been out of the picture for over four years now.

Lora was a conscientious employee and worked very hard for nine years but in the past four years she had become more and more cantankerous, and critical, often blowing up over minor mistakes by fellow employees. In fact lately the other employees had started to avoid her. She’s noticed that she was spending more lunches alone. Puzzled by this, she couldn’t put her finger on the reason why. She had always seen herself as gregarious, outgoing and a lot of fun, all of which were true as long as you didn’t cross her. It was sometimes very tricky to pinpoint what she’d done. She was very charismatic and cut you with humor while smiling all the time. While you’re left wondering what just happened?

Lora didn’t always abuse her charisma. In fact it is was what attracted Lynn to her in the first place, as well as her humor, playfulness, compassion, loyalty and empathy. Lynn’s heart broke when their friendship fell apart. She has been hoping that they could find a way to reconcile. Her nightly prayer was; “Lord, I know what I did was wrong and I have asked Your forgiveness, which I thank You for giving me. Father, I have tried to speak to Lora to apologize and ask her forgiveness but she won’t take my calls; she returns my mail and refuses to open the door when I go to her house. Lord, please soften her heart that she would be willing to accept my apology and that our friendship would be restored. I so miss the old Lora.”

The two women had been friends since that first day of first grade. They met on the play ground when bullies were taunting Lynn a spunky and feisty Lora came to her rescue. This sealed their friendship. Not that Lynn needed defending but even at that tender age Lora had a tender heart coupled with a take charge streak.

Time went on, and when the girls reached high school they blossomed into beautiful, popular, young women. They were both on the girls varsity volleyball team. Lora was of course the team captain. They were also very involved in the drama department. This is where Lynn shone. She got the lead in nearly every production, and Lora was always there to cheer her on.

In her junior year, Lynn fell madly in love with Curtis Madding the varsity quarterback. They started dating in November and things started getting serious by Christmas. She started feeling pressured to go all the way. Curtis had big plans for New Year’s Eve. When he let Lynn in on the scheme she felt half exhilarated but mostly terrified. She had visions of how the night would go; dinner at a fancy restaurant, going dancing afterwards, and then a romantic intimate encounter in the hotel room. Things were going just as Lynn had imagined. They had a lovely dinner at “Pierre’s” the most expensive restaurant in town. Curtis had arranged for fake ID’s for them and Lora and her date Tom. So after dinner the four of them met at the “Club Venice”. Lynn was apprehensive about this because she had seen Curtis overdue on alcohol before and really didn’t want to be around him when he was drunk. As she suspected the first thing Curtis did at the club was to order a beer and chasers. She went to Lora and said, “I’m getting scared, Curtis keeps drinking and he is getting more and more aggressive, and demanding. I tried to get him to stop but he pinned me against the wall. Can you and Tom please give me a ride home?” Lora was distracted by the party atmosphere had no desire to leave so she replied, “Oh, Lynn don’t be such a baby. It’ll be okay. He’ll probably just pass out and sleep it off” Lynn pleaded, “Do you have your cell phone or can I use Tom’s phone to call my dad to pick me up?” Lora responded, “No I didn’t bring a purse with me I knew Tom would be taking care of everything and I’m not going to bother Tom with your hysteria! Honestly, buck up everything will be okay, you’re such a worry wort.” Lynn walked away feeling deflated and abandoned. She realized she was stuck, that Curtis was her only way home, perhaps she could reason with him. Deciding to numb her fears she ordered a rum and coke. She was still nursing it when midnight hit and Curtis pulled her toward him and gave her a sloppy French kiss then said, “Come on baby it’s time to go.”

He grabbed Lynn’s arm hard and dragging her out of there, much to her dismay. Before she knew it she was in his truck on the way to the motel. All the way she kept telling Curtis, “Please, no! I don’t want to anymore! I’ve changed my mind! Curtis, please take me home! Oh, please, please, no!” Curtis replied only once, “Look you stop being such a tease! I’ll take you home when the evening is over and it’s not over yet you bitch!”

They pulled into a sleazy motel on the far side of town. The parking lot was almost deserted. Curtis told Lynn to keep her trap shut or there would be hell to pay. He threatened her that while he got the key if she tried anything he would make her life a living hell. “You know that there is no way you can out run me,” he terrorized, “so don’t even try.” Once at the room, she was in such a state that she didn’t even think to lock her door before he came around opened the door and jerked her out of the truck. Again dragging her this time into the motel room, she cried, “No, no, no, please no!” Once in the room Lynn continued to try and reason with him, “You don’t really want to do this Curtis. Please think about it.” Curtis replied, “You knew that tonight was the night. You’re nothing but a tease. I held up my part of the evening. I gave you all the romance you wanted; an expensive dinner, dancing and now it’s your turn!”, as he threw her on the bed and covered her mouth to muffle her screams. Lora cried through the whole ordeal. When it was over Curtis said, “Get yourself together and I’ll take you home!” The hatred and coldness in his voice scared Lynn. She sat in utter silence all the way home. Nothing was said by either of them once the truck stopped in front of her house; she just jumped out of the vehicle and ran into the house and upstairs to her room.

Thank God mom and dad weren’t home yet, they were still celebrating. Lynn was not ready to face them. She got her night clothes and went to the bathroom for a long hot shower. She scrubbed long and hard to get the scent of Curtis off of her and wept the entire time. An hour and a half later she was in bed still weeping more softly now than when she was in the shower. She wasn’t sure how long she lay in bed trying to muffle her sobs with her pillow. Eventually she fell into a fitful sleep.

The next morning Lynn awoke in pain from the forcefulness of Curtis and exhausted. Her mom told her that Lora was on the phone, Lynn responded, “Tell her I’m not interested in talking with her.”; realizing this might make her mom curious. She added, “Tell her I’ll call her back later, I’m just too tired still.” She was conflicted, Lora was her best friend and she desperately needed someone to talk to but Lora was also the one that had bailed on her last night. She couldn’t help but feeling angry at Lora. “How could she leave me in his company? After all, she’s seen what he’s like drunk. What would make her think last night would be any different and I told her about the plans for the evening? How could she not know what happened was going to happen? I hate Curtis and I never want to see him again and I think I hate Lora and I don’t really want to see her!” Lynn spent the majority of the day in her room in bed. She had come down to have a light breakfast and lunch for she truly wasn’t hungry and was only keeping up appearances. Mom had made some comment about her still being in her pajamas at breakfast, so Lynn dressed not wanting to arouse suspicions.

Later in the afternoon while Lynn was still lying on her bed in bounced Lora. Lynn’s mom had let her in not knowing anything was wrong and told her that Lynn was in her room. Lora was all excited, completely oblivious to Lynn, “Tom asked me to go steady last night isn’t that just great? I couldn’t believe it when I heard it! I even said, ‘What?’ Can you believe it? How embarrassing! But he said it again and it was true after going out only two weeks he wants to go steady! Jeez that man moves fast! And he made it the best night ever! When he came to my door he had a single red rose – isn’t that romantic? Then he took me to the “Quiet Cannon” it had a beautiful ocean and starry night view. After dinner we had a delicious dessert a chocolate mousse that had so many layers of flavors in it, it was amazing! I’m sure I could taste hints orange and maybe some raspberry as well, dark chocolate blended with real whip cream and whatever else they put in it. It was stupendous! Then of course we met you and Curtis at the Club and danced the night away. We didn’t see you leave but when the club closed we went to a scenic point and talked and talked. That’s when he asked me to go steady with him. And of course I said yes.” Lynn had been ignoring Lora and her borage of words, for that’s all they were to her. Finally Lora realized that Lynn was not acting herself. “Hey, what’s with you?” asked Lora. Something broke in Lynn and she was no longer sad and stunned, now she felt rage. “I asked you to take me home and you wouldn’t!!! And, and, and, oh, why couldn’t you have listened to me and done what I had asked?!?! You were so in to Tom that you totally ignored me!!” She screamed. Luckily for Lynn the rest of the house was empty: her mom had gone shopping, her younger brother Georgie had gone to his friend’s house, her older brother was with his girlfriend and dad had gone to his Brother Bob’s house to watch the games, so only Lora was privy to her screaming. “What has you so upset? What on earth did I do? As I recall we were all having fun.” said Lora dumb founded. “Don’t you remember me asking you and Tom to take me home? That I was afraid of Curtis and his drinking? You basically told me I was being hysterical and a worry wort!” yelled Lynn. “I vaguely remember something to that effect but I was having so much fun I wasn’t ready to leave. Plus Curtis didn’t seem all that bad to me. I don’t know what you’re in such a tizzy about!” replied Lora. Lynn could barely contain herself, “I told you that Curtis had plans for last night to be THE night! It wasn’t romantic like I imagined it – far from it! It was horrid! I begged him not to, but he wouldn’t listen to me! No one listened to me last night! It’s like I was mute and invisible! Lora interrupted, “Lynn are you telling me that Curtis forced himself on you?” Lynn shook her head tears started rolling down her face. Lora continued, “Let me make sure I understand you. You are saying that Curtis raped you right?” Lynn went hysterical at the sound of the word, the one she had been trying to force out of her mind, to no avail. Lora ran to her friend to comfort her. She had no idea how to soothe her, with this retched revelation. She had never known anyone who had gone through such a horrid thing, so she just held her and stroked her hair as she wept and sobbed. Lora did some weeping herself. “I’m so sorry Lynn that I didn’t pay more attention to your needs last night. I’m so sorry that I had a part of what you were put through. It makes me sick just thinking about all you’ve been through.” commented Lora. About 30 minutes into this Lora had a practical thought about protection but decided this was not the time to mention it. Another 30 minutes later Lynn was again spent from crying and looked a mess. Lora decided it was time to leave her room. The house was still empty so she suggested they go down stairs to get something to eat.

Lora felt as at home in this house as her own home, so when her companion just plopped herself on the kitchen barstool and her head fell into her arms, Lora just started perusing the pantry and refrigerator for something to eat. “Hey, what about some Tostitos or Pringles?” asked Lora. Lynn mumbled, “No.” Thinking she had found another good option she asked, “What about some pizza and coke?” Again Lynn grunted, “No.” Not to be defeated Lora asked, “How about some hot coco and some cookies? At this Lynn perked up. “I don’t care about the cookies that much but hot coco sounds scrumptious. Do we have any whip cream and any leftover candy canes?” asked Lynn. Lora scrounged around and replied, “Well I found the whip cream but we may be out of luck with the candy canes. Wait a minute I have an idea!” She ran to the living room where the Christmas tree was and there hanging on it were the needed candy canes. She came running back saying, “Eureka! I found them!” While enjoying their coco Lynn seemed relaxed enough to ask her some tough questions, so Lora took a deep breath and dived in, “Lynn I know you may not want to think about this let alone talk about it but have you decided if you are going to press charges or not?” Lynn suddenly felt like a caged animal, she dropped the candy cane she was using to stir her coco. It is not that the thought had not occurred to her but so many other thoughts came with it: everyone would know, how would they react, especially my parents, there would be a trial, and could I really go through a trial, would I be made out to be a vixen? She finally replied, “I have thought of it and all the repercussions and I’m not sure I can press charges.” “Is it that you’re afraid that you’ll be the one put on trial? Or is it that you don’t want your parents knowing what happened to you?” asked Lora. “Those and so much more, it’ll be public knowledge. You know that all of Jefferson High will be taking sides on who to believe, not just the school the whole community will be taking sides. I don’t think I can go through all of that. He’s too popular and more likely to be believed than me. I think I just want to forget about it and go on with my life. All anyone will know is that we broke up in the New Year.” said Lynn. Lora dared their friendship some more, “Lynn, did he use protection?” she asked tentatively. “Nnoooo!” Lynn wailed. “And yes I know full well what that means! What will I do if I am pregnant?!?” she continued to wail. “We will cross that bridge when we come to it.” assured Lora. “We’ll just wait and see if you miss your period and if you do we’ll get a pregnancy test.” “But what if it comes out positive?” cried Lynn. “Then I’ll go with you to Planned Parenthood and they will let you know what your options are. I understand you don’t need insurance or parental permission there.” Lora said trying to calm the panicky Lynn.

Four weeks later with a positive pregnancy test Lora and Lynn found themselves at Planned Parenthood. They did their own test on her and it confirmed what the girls already knew. They talked to her about the option of abortion and gave her pamphlets on it to take with her. They learned it would be $350 for an early abortion and it would cost $400 if she waited pass nine weeks. She would have to make a decision quickly she had limited funds from her after school job and after 12 weeks it increased by a $100 every 4 weeks. “I’ve got $200 in Christmas money and $70.28 saved from working but that leaves me shy almost $80. I have to make car and insurance payments and gas. If I use the car to get to and from work that will only leave me with a grand total of $290 in my bank account. I can’t afford an abortion and I can’t bear the thought of going through with the pregnancy. It’ll be a constant reminder of that night! Everyone will know that we did it even if they didn’t know how it really happened. They will think I actually enjoyed it! They’ll expect me to love this thing! How can I do anything but hate it and what it represents?!?” bemoaned Lynn as they head for the car. Lora hurt for her friend and offered, “Don’t worry Lynn no one has to ever know what happened. There is no need for your secret to get out. I’ll never say anything to anyone. You can count on my solemn promise and our friendship. As for the rest of the money I have the additional $60 you need. So you see everything will be alright. Would you feel better if we went back and made an appointment right now for four weeks from Monday? We will have the money that we need by then.”Lynn replied, “Yeh, let’s go and get this over with.”

Afterwards, Lynn felt dead and empty inside. She was feeling awful before the abortion but she never imagined that she would feel even worse afterwards. When she tried to explain it to Lora all she got was trite sayings that did her no go. The only person she could go to with this retched pain was totally oblivious to what she was going through. She finally gave up and buried her feelings as deep as she could. It became something that Lora and Lynn never talked about again.

They both went to the local University and there met Diane. They all took the same general education, biology class. They would meet in study rooms in the Library. Diane had a natural talent for biology where Lora grasped it fairly well, but Lynn struggled with it. Diane was intelligent, wise, discerning, compassionate, thoughtful, funny, a good cook, pleasant to look at, an excellent listener, and she was rather popular. In dorm life those that were intelligent, listened and could cook it lent themselves to popularity. Diane also had a deep abiding love for God. It was her discernment and wisdom that kept her from being black balled for her beliefs. She knew when to speak and what to say and when to listen and pray. This became an endearing quality in her. Diane had a very special affinity for Lora and Lynn. All three lived in the dorm and quickly became inseparable. Diane could tell that something was deeply disturbing Lynn but despite all her prayers for an opening she never found the right time to ask Lynn what weighed her down. The Sisters Three, as they grew to call themselves, graduated college. Lora had interned with a prominent advertising firm and had a job waiting for her upon graduation. Lynn had majored in education and was hired as an English teacher at a Jefferson High School. Diane had majored in nursing with an interest in psychology. Sisters Three would have weekly lunches varying on Diane’s schedule at the hospital.

Lora and Lynn frequented bars in an attempt to meet men. One night Lora met a guy named Rob. There was an instant connection. Lynn was not nearby when they met. She was busy talking to another man, Rob walked by and Lynn gravitated to him immediately. She couldn’t help the feelings she was having even as she saw Lora interacting with him. She decided staying clear would be the safest thing to do. The feelings were so intense she couldn’t risk getting to know him.

The next day was their weekly lunch. Lynn ventured to ask Lora how her evening went. “At first I thought it was going places but my date Rob turned out to be a disappointment. “Just a one night stand?” Lynn inquired, “What made him such a disappointment? And if he was a disappointment why did you sleep with him?” Lora responded, “As you know I am not ready for any kind of commitment. This guy is looking hard for Mrs. Right and I don’t want to be Mrs. Anybody. I’m all for living for the moment and having fun. He doesn’t want to do that so he’s not the guy for me.” Diane ventured, “Did you find this out before or after you slept with him?” Lynn was so grateful for Diane’s question, she wanted to ask that herself but thought that might give too much away. Lora responded indignantly, “After of course! What do you think I am? What are you getting at Diane?” Diane asked God for wisdom, discernment and love, took a deep breath and responded, “I believe when you are intimate you give part of yourself away and one day you may look back and find you’ve lost too much of yourself.” Lora turned away from the others, looking out the window, a solitary tear rolled down her check. Pondering Diane’s comment she connected the feelings of emptiness with long forgotten pieces of herself.

Knowing that Lora had no feelings for Rob Lynn mustered up her courage to ask Lora if she could pursue Rob. “Lora I know this may come as a surprise to you but when I saw Rob last night I had very strong feelings for him. I didn’t come and introduce myself because I knew the feelings were beyond my control and if I got to know him there would be no denying them. You were engaged with him and I wasn’t going to cross girlfriend boundaries. Now that I know that you have no interest in him, I’m asking for your permission to pursue him. I’m hoping that this will turn into something great but I don’t want to step on your toes.” Lora answered, “Lynn, I have no interest in the man, if you want to pursue him that is fine with me. I have his phone number would you like me to set the two of you up.” “Would you? That would be great! You can give him my phone number.” said Lynn. Their relationship never clicked it was one sided on Lynn’s part.

As close as “The Sisters Three” were their dating practices were very different. Lora was a casual dater, occasionally she would get serious about someone, but usually it was one or two dates and on to the next guy. Lynn was an old fashion girl. Yes she went to the bars with Lora but when she found someone that she was interested she hoped and prayed that he would notice her and waited for him to make the first move. In contrast Diane wanted a man who loved God so she did her looking at church, took her time and observed the man’s character to see if it was something that she desired.

Sisters Three were at a bar one night, this really wasn’t Diane’s thing but she enjoyed the company and was the designated driver incase Lynn decided to drink. At their table they had a great view of the majority of the patrons of the bar. Lynn immediately noticed a man with an enchanting smile, luscious deep brown hair meticulously coiffed. His eyes danced as he laughed at the joke he had told the woman he was standing beside. He was dressed in Florshiems (reminiscent of her father’s favorite shoe), dark jeans, a lavender dress shirt with a v-neck lavender sweater that had yellow trim accents on the v-neck and cuffs. As Lynn drank in the sight she couldn’t help but think that this was not only a man that knew how to dress but was very assured of himself, two qualities she found very attractive. She checked herself in her mirror, was she presentable enough to catch his eye? Oh, how she hoped that he might notice her. Much to her dismay later in the night Lora set her sights on him. She flirted enough to get him to come to their table. Lynn wished so that he would notice her and he did but only after being entangled by Lora, she could be possessive when she wanted.

He introduced himself as Kenneth Randolph. Lora had commented, “Please join us. That’s a rather peculiar last name is there an interesting story behind it?” putting her hand on his forearm. “Well,” started Kenneth, “some might say it’s interesting. My great great grandfather fought in World War I. He was found in Germany by the Brits, unconscious with no dog tags; no helmet, only an American uniform on. They took him to one of their hospitals and all he did was mumble Kenneth Randolph. They figured this was his name and wrote to the American Authorities to see if they could find his family – none was ever found neither was any recruit by the name of Kenneth Randolph. He spoke perfect English in his mumblings and never any other language so no one even considered that he might be a spy. When he finally awoke they greeted him as Kenneth but he had no recollection of that name or for that matter any name. They worked with him for nearly a year trying to help him to regain his memory, but, he finally gave up and took the name Kenneth Randolph. My dad wanted to honor all he did for our country and all he lost in the process so after all these years I’m the first to bear his name” “How thoughtful and loving of your father.” said Lynn. “It looks like you work out. Where do you go?” quipped Lora. “I go to the YMCA near my place” responded Kenneth. “Well, it has given you a great physique.” flirted Lora.

Lora continued flirting with Kenneth and after 30 minutes of this Lynn could see that it was useless to think she could get his attention. She did question herself, “Did he really look at me and smile? Was that a wink he gave in my direction? Surely I must have been mistaken. He’s flirting with Lora, if he were interested in me surely he would approach me rather than continuing with her.” Lynn couldn’t take any more of this, it was too painful, so she turned to Diane and asked, “Would you mind taking me home? I’m ready to call it a night.” Diane responded, “Sure Lynn no problem. Bye Kenneth nice to meet you. See you soon Lora.” “It was nice to meet the two of you.” Kenneth said. “Bye.” Lora gushed. Kenneth watched as the two left, he couldn’t help but feel this night had somehow gone terribly wrong.

Realizing that Lora may have no way home Kenneth asked, “Did the three of you come together?” “Yes” smiled Lora as if he had fallen into a trap. “I guess you’ll just have to take me home.” Kenneth responded casually and cautiously, “Taking you home would indeed be the gentlemanly thing to do. Shall we go?” Lora was beside herself with her good luck. This scheme hadn’t always worked but when it did it was always to her satisfaction.

On the ride home the conversation going on in the two minds couldn’t be more different. Lora was thinking, “He’ll open my door. We’ll walk up to my condo and I’ll invite him in for a night cap and then the fun will begin.” Kenneth was thinking, “I hope she isn’t expecting anything. Although some flirting is fun this girl is just to forward for me. I can’t wait for this evening to end. I’ll take her home; make sure she gets in safe and leave.”

Once at her condo he opened the door to his car for her and walked her up to the front of the high rise complex. He stopped at the door and thanked her for the evening. Lora was stunned, “Don’t you want to come up?” Not wanting to be rude Kenneth rationalized, “It’s getting late. I just want to go home.” Lora wanted more from Kenneth than just a night of innocent flirting, “Well, don’t forget to take my number so we can get together again.” Lora handed Kenneth her business card, turned it over and wrote her cell and home numbers on the back. Kenneth thought boy this girl is pushy she isn’t even letting me make the move, she is not the girl for me, so he just said, “Thanks,” turned towards his car quipped, “I had a nice time, bye.” and got into his car and drove off.

As Kenneth was driving off reflecting on the evening he realized that although he had enjoyed the compliments Lora was giving him and the flirting they did all evening he couldn’t help but think of the sweet Lynn who had gone home with quiet Diane. How was he going to get in contact with her without going through Lora? 

Continue reading “Lora’s Lesson”

30 Days of Gratitude – Day 26 Beauty in the Storm

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Today I’m grateful for the beauty that comes from both the weather storms and the storms in life.

My boyfriend and I are on vacation and for this So. Cal. girl snow is an oddity.  We knew the storm was coming and had had hints of it the day before but when I woke up at 4:30 in the morning my first thought was of excitement.  Not of inconvenience or of being snowed in.  As a matter of fact this is what I saw outside my cabin this early morning.

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Ron’s car at 4:30 note that you can still see the license plate.

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Notice the snow is minimal on the branches of the tree.

Then I went back to bed with no concern of the storm or of what it would farther cause.  It later got me thinking are there storms in life that I’m so comfortable with?  Do I ever actually get excited about a storm?  I think not excited but may be  complacent.  And that is when the enemy has won.  He wants  me complacent as the storm brews so that I don’t run to God and that the blessed maturity that can come with storms doesn’t happen.

If I never struggled with anything then I would have no cause to run to God for help and direction and wisdom.  Without the storm I’d never have any need for the cross and then what a sad state I’d be in.  But because of the storms in life I have run to the cross for forgiveness and salvation and now I have a relationship with my Lord that I’d never give up.

That is why I’m grateful for storms and their beauty.  Now granted not all weather storms are what one would consider beautiful they are more frightful.  But God can make good out of anything and even if we don’t see that good this side of heaven, we can stand in faith that He is making it for our good.  That is the beauty that comes from the storms of weather and life.

We can know that God loves us and has His best planned for us.  Jeremiah 29:11.

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To give you an idea of what a few more hours of light snow can do for those of you not familiar with snow here is Ron’s car a little later this morning.

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That tree with the light amount of snow on the branches?  Well here’s a tree outside my bedroom window to show how much more snow there is.

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Yes this storm brought with it instant beauty some other storms in life take longer to see the beauty behind the storm.  But keep your eyes and heart open to it and most likely you will be able to see it this side of heaven and if it is one of those storms that is a faith stretcher don’t loose hope and wait for the other side of heaven for your opportunity to see the beauty God has created out of your storm.  Sometimes we don’t get to see the forest through the trees until we have the right vantage point.

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

30 Days of Gratitude – Day 21 Grateful I Can Change

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Today I’m grateful that I can change with the help of God.

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Max Lucado puts it well in, “Grace for the Moment: A 365 Day Journaling Devotional” in January 21st entry called, “A Heart Like His”.

God wants us to be just like Jesus.  Isn’t that good news?  You aren’t stuck with today’s personality.  You aren’t condemned to “grumpydom.”  You are tweak able.  Even if you’ve worried each day of your life, you needn’t worry the rest of your life.  So what if you were born a bigot?  You don’t have to die one.

Where did we get the idea we can’t change?  From whence come statements such as, “It’s just my nature to worry.” or, “I’ll always be pessimistic. I’m just that way.”…Who says?  Would we make similar statements about our bodies?  “It’s just my nature to have a broken leg.  I can’t do anything about it.”  Of course not.  If our bodies malfunction, we seek help.  Shouldn’t we do the same with our hearts?  Shouldn’t we seek aid for our sour attitudes?  Can’t we request treatment for our selfish tirades?  Of course we can.  Jesus can change our hearts.  He wants us to have a heart like his.

What a blessing it is to know that change is possible.  If we are living with the cancer of bitterness we needn’t die with it.  Jesus can give us a heart of love and forgiveness that will kill the cancer of bitterness.  If we are hanging on to things of the past Jesus can help us to live in the present and let loose of the past that only hurts and interferes with our todays.  As the poem says, you won’t find God in the past He isn’t, I was, and don’t look for Him in the future He isn’t, I will be, look for Him in the present because His name is, I Am.

I’m so grateful for where God has brought me from already and I look forward to where He is going to bring me to in my journey to become more and more like Jesus.

Let Jesus do the work He has in store for you to bring you into His likeness.  We all must remember our place at the wheel.  We are the clay and He is the potter, longing to mold and make us in His likeness.

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

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!

Struggle with Self-esteem?

I don’t know how many of you struggle with not feeling good enough, but it has been a thorn in my side for my entire life.  It was almost a stumbling block between me and salvation.  I didn’t think that there was anyway that God could possibly forgive me!  My poor self image and my awareness of my sinful nature was so before me that for some reason I thought that God would accept Hitler before me.

Now no at the age of 13 I had not caused the death of anyone or tried to take over the world, but all the same I felt so unworthy that I was certain that no one even God could possibly forgive me for my sin.  It took a long time to realize that it wasn’t a matter of worth that got me into the kingdom of heaven, but a matter of grace.

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.   –  Titus 2:11

The passage that really settled it for me and gave me assurance of not only my salvation but my position in Christ is Ephesians 2:1-10

1As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work is those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature an following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God – 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

What comforted me about this passage is many things and I’d like to break it down for you.  First of all, as I’ve already mentioned I was keenly aware of my sinfulness, which made me feel totally unworthy of anything God could have for me.  In Ephesians 2:1-3 it talks about our sins and how we were dead in our transgressions and how all of us lived this way as by nature objects of wrath.  When I read that I thought this Book gets me.  This is exactly how I feel.

Then came verses 4 & 5 “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”  I could hardly believe my eyes, God loved me and not only that he had rich mercy on me.  Though I was dead in my transgressions God chose to make me alive in Christ.  By grace I was saved.  What a generous God.  It was almost more than my eyes could take in.  My heart was pounding with joy as it is now reliving it.

As if He knew that I needed the added message of what my position  was to help me with my self worth, He goes on to tell me that He/God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, amazing.

So that we don’t get it wrong we are reminded that it is by grace we are saved, through faith, and this not from ourselves, it is a gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.  This keeps me in the right frame of mind humble because I know that I need God for everything.

Then the writer does us the wonderful blessing of letting us know what God’s purpose for us is. Verse 10 “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  Isn’t it wonderful we know what we are here for to do good works that God has already prepared for us.  That means we need to keep in communication with Him so that we don’t miss out on our purpose.  Since He has planned them out in advance it would be foolish to just go around and do any good work that might not be the one He is wanting you or I to do.  Open communication is crucial for us to know what it is that we are to be doing to stay in God’s will.  Anything else is pride.

Lord thank You for Your Word and for Your will and plans.  Forgive me for my times of pride when I’ve charged off and done things on my own will whether I thought they were for You or not, I was sinful not to come toYou first.  I ask you to forgive me of the sin of my pride and help me to turn to You first.  In the sweet name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen.

A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

Lora’s Lesson – A Short Story – Part 10

Lora asked tentatively, “Do you think that she would want to talk to me? For years I’ve not taken her calls and returned her mail and never answered the door when she came.” Diane assured, “Lora, Lynn forgave you ages ago and her fervent prayer has been that you would forgive her and welcome her and Ken into your life.” A relieved Lora stated, “Do you think that she and Ken would be available today? I really don’t want to wait, our relationship has been horrible long enough.” Diane smiled, “Why don’t you call her cell?” “It is the same number?” Lora admitted sheepishly, “After four years of no contact I’ve forgotten her number.” Diane replied, “I understand give me your cell and I’ll dial it so it will be on your phone.” As the phone rang Lora’s nerves were beginning to get the best of her, but she took a deep breath and mustered up all the courage she could find. Finally Lynn answered and Lora responded tentatively, “Lynn, its Lora I was wondering if I could talk to you and Ken today?” Lynn was ecstatic to hear Lora’s voice, “Sure Lora, how about coming over for dinner at 6 pm? Ken and I have been doing yard work all day so that will give us a chance to clean up and change. I already had a menu planned that was going to leave lots of leftovers so you’re more than welcome. Oh, you don’t know where we live do you.” “No.” answered Lora. “We live at 1425 Randolph St., isn’t that a hoot that the Randolph’s live on Randolph St. When we found the house I fought against it just because of the street name but in the end the house won me over it is so perfect for us. Well I look forward to seeing you at six. Do you need directions or can you find it by the address?” gushed Lynn. Lora laughed to herself, “No, I’m good my car has a GPS.” “Okay then we will be looking forward to seeing you.” As Lora got off the phone she couldn’t help but think that Lynn sounded like the girl she knew so very long ago. The one she first met and knew until Curtis got his hands on her. Up until this moment she had never realized just how much that night changed her. She couldn’t help but smile at the thought of seeing the old friend that had been gone for so long. Then she remembered her talk with Diane. She couldn’t help but wonder what Lynn would be seeing in her. She prayed a quick prayer that it wouldn’t be bitterness and coldness.

Six pm came and as usual Lora was right on time and a bit apprehensive about the night. When she got to the house she noticed it was a modest ranch style home. The stucco was painted a grayish Wedgewood blue, the door, shutters and eves were dark slate blue with white on the wood pane windows and garage door. The yard was immaculate. It had gray slate slabs for the walkway from the sidewalk to the front door and wrapped to the right side of the house where a rod iron bench stood. Tree roses flanked the walkway to the front door and driveway. Either side of the walkway was a fresh cut lawn the aroma was still in the air. There was a window box under the kitchen window filled with herbs. There were pot lights that accented all the right areas. As Lora walked up this very welcoming walkway she couldn’t help but compare the sterile atmosphere of her modern condo and become a little jealous. Once inside the smells of dinner and the friendly host and hostess completed the feeling of being welcomed.

“Dinner will be ready in 10 minutes. Would you like some wine while we wait?” Lynn said gaily. “Yes that would be lovely” replied Lora, “What are we having? It smells absolutely delicious.” “Oh it’s a dish I created. I call it Polynesian Stuffed Pork, the stuffing is brown rice with apple, crushed pineapple, white currants and dried cranberries with a sauce of Teriyaki, orange juice, apple juice, and pineapple juice. Some of the sauce goes in the stuffing but most of it is thickened and poured on the pork then the remainder is used for gravy.” Lora smiled, “It’s hard to imagine that the girl who barely ate in college is now creating her own gourmet recipes.” “Well I wouldn’t call them gourmet but I do have a lot of fun cooking now. I’ve changed a lot in many ways. Lora I’m not the same girl that you used to know.” Lynn confessed. “I can see that Lynn. It’s like you’re the old Lynn I first knew the one that was carefree and happy. The girl I knew before that awful New Year’s night. That’s what I wanted to talk to you and Ken about. Can the two of you sit down for a minute?” Ken and Lynn sat beside each other on the love seat. Lora sat opposite them and continued. “Thanks. The reason I wanted to see you is because I realize that I did a horrible thing to you by betraying your trust and I want to ask the two of you if you can find it in your heart to one day forgive me. No matter how mad I was at the time, my actions were inexcusable and I don’t blame you if it would take a long time for you to forgive me, but that’s okay I can wait.” Ken looked at Lynn and smiled, knowing how much this meant to her. Lynn responded, “Oh, Lora I can’t tell you how long I have wanted to talk to you to ask your forgiveness for hurting you. I wanted your blessing on Ken and mine’s relationship but things had gone so far that I couldn’t just give him up. The only thing I could do is hope that someday you would find it in your heart to forgive me. Of course I forgive you. Actually what you did is what started the change in me that you now see. I had stuffed all that pain inside me and it was eating away at me. It gnawed at my heart; I was acting out in my eating though I didn’t want to admit it at first. I’ve been doing a lot of work to get to where I am today and it all started with being forced out of hiding. You did that for me. Yes it was in a very painful way at the time, but God turned it to my good. I’m a better woman for it, as you have seen. So the question I must now ask my dear friend is, can you forgive me?” Lora astonished and relieved said, “Of course I can forgive you, but are you really sure everything is alright with us?” Lynn smiled, “My dear sister come with me.” She walked her down the hall to the bedrooms. As she got to the intended door she turned and put her finger to her lips and said, “Ssshhhh” She opened the door quietly and motioned for Lora to follow her into the dark room. Coming to a crib Lynn motioned and said, “This dear sister is your niece, her name is Lora Diane Randolph; honoring the two ladies that helped me rediscover the person God made me to be.”