Journey From Bondage to Freedom

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I’m in bondage. Fear has taken ahold of me. I’ll be honest with you readers it has been quite awhile since I have been able to go to church, mostly for health reasons but that doesn’t mean that I couldn’t be listening to the tape of the service and even longer since I’ve read my Bible. Some Christian Right? I known overwhelming fear and while watching “The Fighting Temptations” twice yesterday with two different friends, (I thought the movie would be a blessing to them, but I think it blessed me the most).  I needed what it shared, my church and being in the choir was the first blessing it gave me, remembering the joy for it. But then when my friends were gone came the real blessing facing hard ugly truths about myself, and this to share with you, also terrifies me, but I know honesty and transparency is what is required. So as my stomach churns, I progress.

Phillipians 4:6-7  “In nothing be anxious, but in everything by prayer and thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.” 

The Bible makes it very clear that we are not to fear! That we are to put our trust in the Lord. It is that simple. He promises peace if we just trust, pray and thank Him, easier said than done.

I did say that I’m in bondage and yes that as I sit here I realize I have been most of my life. Fear has been the main underlying storyline of my life that, and a general feeling of unworthiness. This last week I’ve been drowning in fear.

Letting myself fear is a sin of not putting my trust in God the creator of the universe. How can I be so arrogant? Could it be that I feel unworthy of His love? His grace? His care? How can I say I put my faith, my salvation in His hands, yet I don’t trust Him with my health issues, with my families issues, with my friends? Do I really believe God to be the God of gods and the Lord of Lords? The Holy Father of the Son of God Jesus Christ who died for my sins? If I do how is it that this magnificent God is not worthy of my trust?

Matthew 6:25-26 “This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t so or reap or gather into barns, yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they?”

You would think that these two verses, especially the last sentence would calm me and put my mind at ease; to know that the God of the universe thinks I’m of more worth than the birds of the air. I wish I could honestly tell you that the nerves in my stomach the overwhelming fear of the unknown has been comforted, it has not.

Matthew 6:27 “Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying?”

Makes worrying seem rather futile doesn’t it? I know it does to me logically as well, but that doesn’t change the truth of what I’m really feeling, anxiety/fear/worry still.

Matthew 6:28-30 “And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was not adorned like one of these! If that’s how God cloths the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you – you of little faith?”

There it is again He will take care of us with not just adequate care, or good care, but adorned by God. He clearly tells us all over His word how much He loves and adores us. Yet my sin, my shinning folly is staring back at me from the words I’ve just typed, ” – you of little faith”. I’ve been out of a Bible study and of my own studying of the Word, away from church, and only talking with God for a very long time. I know our relationship needs more than that my faith has lessoned. I’ve fallen. My God help @me! Save me from the fear, the worry that permeates my being. Help me put my heath issues in your hand!

Matthew 6:31-34 “So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat? or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

There is the answer on how to actively stop worrying! First we must make the decision to obey God by letting Him know what’s our my heart. Phillipians 4:6 “in everything by prayer and thanksgiving, let your requests be made know to God. ” We need communicate with our Lord, pour out whatever it is that is weighing us down, He wants to know it all. After all He already knows it – He’s waiting for us to let Him in. As I type this I realize I haven’t really been letting my Lord in. Father forgive me. Even better when we take everything by prayer and thanksgiving, making them known to God it will eliminate the worry!

Now before you call me crazy let me try to explain if it isn’t clear. When we give  our worries to God and thank Him for answering our answering our prayers (in advance) we have no need to take them back, thus causing us to worry that day. If we are tempted to take the item back we are commanded to pray in everything by prayer and thanksgiving, to let our requests be made know to God, it doesn’t say that there is any time limit. That we can only come to Him once a day, no! Our Father knows our frailties and loves us. He never slumbers or sleeps, available 24/7, 365, praise Him!

Better yet, that promise goes on to, Phillipians 4:7 “And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.” Not only will God eliminate worry He will replace it with a peace that surpasses all understanding! How does that sound for a promise? All we have to do is come to God in prayer and thanksgiving. He is such a gracious Father. There is no way that we can comprehend His peace but to experience it is a blessing of being a child of the King.

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Once we’ve poured our requests to Him, He commands us not to worry, Matthew 6:34 “…don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  As the promise gives us peace, the command keeps us in the present. As Matthew 6:34 says, tomorrow (and as for that the next day and the next have/ [mine]) has enough worry for itself. The promise helps us stay in the present taking our requests to the Lord. The command protects us from living outside of the promise, which is what I was doing. Lord forgive my foolishness!

Joy – A Fellow SoJourner!

Project Imitate Christ – Project Love

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Do You ever have a time when God tells you to do one thing and you do another? Well that happened to me yesterday. I had initially decided to calls this Project Love, however someone I care about influenced me and I changed what I had felt led to originally do. So from now on this project is and forever will be the PROJECT LOVE, #projectlove.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to display love.

First I must tell you a little about myself so you can understand. I have been dealing with breathing problems. These seem to be exasperated with heat and humidity. Being that I have had a problem with a thing called conversion disorder, which is when your body creates physical symptoms to force you to deal with psychiatric issues, this is what my psychiatrist thought I had when I mentioned the problems to him. However, even if it was conversion disorder the first thing you do is rule out actual physical issues. My primary doctor first thought that it might be a cardiac problem. I have been to the cardiologist and he has cleared my heart, for which I am eternally grateful, especially since my father died of heart disease. So my doctor sent me to the pulmonary doctor for a pulmonary function test better know as a PFT. I finally found out that from my doctor not the pulmonary doctor (his office sent me to my doctor) that I have moderate restriction of the lungs. This is actually a relief I’m not not dealing with issues. I’m not sure if you can follow that but there is something very comforting about knowing you are working through your issues. Anyway my doctor sent me back to the pulmonary doctor since there is nothing my internist can do for me other than ask me if I was on oxygen.

I tell you all of the this because, back to yesterday I walked in from a hot humid day into the lobby of an office, greeted by the blessed crisp of the air of an air conditioned lobby! Something I love! I sat down (at a proper distance) and to my left there was a man with a woman sitting on either side of him. At a glance it now looking back on it as though there were having a meeting own the lobby. However, when they ask me to “Do them a favor” I moved beside them, he gentleman quickly corrected me and said, “”No we were wanting you to go outside.” I said, “Oh, okay.” Despite the heat and the lack of shade or breeze I was not self-seeking and although it was difficult I praised God because I had prayed about just this! An opportunity to display love! God also spared me it wasn’t all that long before the gentleman came out saying that they had decided it was easier for them to move them send me out. Thank you Lord!

If your wondering why I moved towards them when they asked me to help them I was wondering the same thing. Then God brought to mind that the last time I had heard that sentence was at Disneyland (of which I’m at regularly) wanting me to do a survey. So, my only excuse for my behavior is that I thought they wanted me fill out some sort of survey for the office. Although now that I think of it I can’t imagine what for!

I’m not sure how God is going to use this love project in my life or in the lives of others, but honestly I think I’m going to be the one that is blessed the most!

Joy – A Fellow Sojourner In Christ!

Jesus Loves Me!

There is the sound of meals rolling down the aisle of the ward and the distinction of plastic utensils for every meal or the calling of staff for the starting of a group to attend.

During the weekdays it wasn’t bad. We kept busy with groups and doctor visits but weekends were awful. You may wait around all day in the hopes of a visitor, but most of the time was spent in your room or pacing the hall. There was rarely enough staff to take us out in what was referred to as outside. Ounce you got out, there was a very high chain-link fence to keep anyone from leaving. The other option was the TV room, which was also only assessable when there was enough staff to watch everyone. These rarely happened because the unit was usually under staffed.

During one of my hospital stays I met a precious little angel, we’ll call, Annie. This dear soul had down syndrome, was blind, heard voices (schizophrenia), and loved Jesus with all her heart. When the voices got really bad the only thing that would calm her down was singing, “Jesus Loves Me”.

She didn’t spend anytime outside her room with the general population. It never occurred to me to ask the staff why. I can only guess that it was too much stimuli for her to handle. There were a couple of us that would visit her during our down time from groups and meals. Any time we would hear Annie screaming we would get to her as soon as possible to hold her hands and talk to her about what the voices were telling her and the fallacy in what they were saying, pray with her and if all that didn’t work we would sing, “Jesus Loves Me”. As she started feeling better she would join us in singing. Such a simple song, that rang out the words of truth. A song that brought such comfort and healing.

For some reason that none of us will ever know why, they decided Annie should be transferred somewhere else. This made Annie very scared and anxious. I was with her holding her hand singing to her right up until the guys with the gurney started to take her away. I told one EMT “Sing the song ‘Jesus Loves Me’ to her, it calms her.” He said, “You’re a Proverbs 31 woman.” My heart warmed, my throat tightened up & tears ebbed on my eyelids (as is happening as I write this) and I smiled as he wheeled her away. There in a Psychiatric Hospital a patient, not as an employee, he saw something in me; in the psych ward where the most humiliating labels come from, that touched my heart and sent it souring higher than any bird you can imagine. That moment though my body was locked up, my heart and soul were in heaven!

I’ve been hospitalized over 35 times and I could tell you how God met me each time. Some people may see all of these hospitalizations as a failure of me not trusting God or of God not meeting me when I needed Him the most. But that could be nothing further from the truth, in each and everyone I can see how God has blessed me. He has either used me, open my eyes by someone else or both.

Sometimes I wonder why God chose to bless me with the thorns He did. But then I’m reminded that God can meet you anywhere no matter what the circumstances. I’m also reminded how truly blessed I am. I’m truly blessed the more bows in your arsenal the more lives you are able to affect. For that affect I’ll ask God for as many as He feels I am capable of handling.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been in the hospital and if God calls me to go again; wherever He calls I’ll go.

Joy – A Woman After God’s Own Heart

30 Days of Gratitude – Day 28 God’s Unmerited Favor

Today I’m grateful for the unmerited favor the God has shown to me.  I’ve been living in a dark whole for many months and though I know that God was with me in that whole, today the light was visible.  It  was like I was lost in a dark forest, unable to find my way out and today finally the light shown thorough the branches of the trees.

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Where there was once despair there is now hope.  I’m back in God’s Word, after being away for more than four months, which has filled me with such joy, hope, inspiration, a kick in the butt (greatly needed), grace, and blessings beyond measure.   Today’s readings have not only reminded me of God’s grace, and hope but the truth that He is always there and so is His Word and the richness there of.

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During my times of depression when it was all I could do to get up watch TV, figure something out to eat and take care of my dog, there were times when I knew God was with me.  Most of the time I had to take that as a step of faith, that God was still there no matter how alone I felt, occasionally and these where rare but I’m oh so grateful for them, there were times when I could actually feel His embrace.  It was in those times that my faith was faltering that God was so kind as to shore up my faith and bless my wounded heart with the warmth of His embrace.  It is something I will never forget or take for granted.  Maybe it’s a sign of my own weakness that He came to me in such a physical way but weakness or not He knew what I needed at that very moment.  I was all alone and desperate and needed to feel loved.  I’m not saying that I’m anyone special because of that embrace, honestly more likely I’m someone less special.  I would love to say that my faith is so strong that I don’t doubt or cry out to God to show Himself, but sadly that is not the case.

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In this area and in many other areas God is molding me and making me into the Christian that He would have me be.  Some days I’m a more willing piece of clay than others and because of that I’m so grateful for His grace.  I would love to say that I meet my trials with courage, fortitude and a strong faith, but more often than not I fail, fall to the ground, stay there a while and then figure it out to call on God to help me out.

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This piece of clay is not only hard, so it needs a lot of water and pressure from the Potter, it also has far too dry parts that need to be removed completely in order to work the clay properly.  The more the Potter works with this clay the more evident the hard dried out pieces become and the painful process of removal must take place.  Thankfully even with these pieces the Potter has not given up on this piece of clay.

If you’re like me and have your off days as well as your on fire days.  Take hope in the fact that God’s grace (unmerited favor) is limitless.  His love is unconditional as long as you are His child.  So, if you haven’t accepted what Christ did for you on the cross, which was paying the penalty for all our sins and that penalty is death, ask forgiveness of your sins (anything short of perfection), accept what Christ did on the cross for you and ask Him to come into your life and help you life the kind of life He wants you to live.  It’s as easy as that to become a child of God.

Give Your Love Away

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Jesus commands us as the second of the two things we must do to complete the law of all the prophets.  Being Mark 12:30-31 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.”

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When we share the love that God has given to us we are in essence reflecting God’s love to those that we love.

When we have love in our heart and lives we won’t be gossips and hurting people by spreading hurtful things with an untamed tongue.  When we love we won’t be jealous and envious of others, rather we will join them in the joy of their fortune. When we love we won’t wish ills on others but rather be praying for blessings for them.   We will be looking for a way to be a blessing to them rather than caught up in our own lives.  We will be vigilant about noticing signs of distress that may mean that they need our assistance because that is the least that you would do for your own body.

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It may seem impossible or radical but let’s really think about our neighbor and not to be noisy but out of love and concern be attentive to what is going on in their lives.  Let’s open our hearts and doors.  No more driving in and out of your garage and into your house never even knowing who your neighbor is.  Walk down your sidewalk and introduce yourself.  Stop at the mailbox long enough to greet others in your apartment complex, who knows it might be an opportunity to show some love if not at the least a smile and you may make someones day.

This world has become very isolated but we don’t have to let it stay that way.  We can choose to look for opportunities to connect to others be that playing it safe by just being friendly or taking a chance and actually showing love to someone.

When I lived in England I learned a song, I believe it’s called, “Magic Penny”.  The lyrics go:

Love is something if you give it away, give it away, give it away, you end up having more.

It’s just like a magic penny.  Hold it tight and you won’t have any, but lend, spend it and you’ll have so many, they’ll just roll all over the floor.

For, love is something if you give it away, give it away, give it away, you end up having more.

So may I challenge us to look for ways to give our love away?  God has an unlimited supply to restore and refresh us with.  Like the song says if we hold our love tight we won’t have any, it becomes a stagnant pond useless to anyone.  We must think of our love as a fountain where water never grows stagnant or rushing waterfall that’s mist nourishes all the plants that surrounds it.

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

Quote: A Child’s Prayer

A Child’s Prayer

M. Bentham-Edwards

God make my life a little light,

Within the world to glow;

A tiny flame that burneth bright

Wherever I may go.

God Make my life a little flower,

that giveth joy to all,

Content to bloom in native bower,

Although its place be small.

God make my life a little song,

That comforteth the sad;

That helpeth others to be strong,

And makes the singer glad.

God make my life a little staff,

Whereon the weak may rest,

That so what health and strength I have

May serve my neighbors best.

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May we strive as this child’s prayer states to be: the glow into the world of darkness and to bring joy into peoples lives no matter how small, to always watch for the sad and bring them comfort and lastly keep alert for the weak that we may be a resting place for them and a source of strength.  May we always strive to serve our neighbors best.  Isn’t that what our LORD would have us do?

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

Quote for Today – On The Wings Of Faith

“Suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind…and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” – Acts 2:2-4 NKJV

“I understand that a turkey and an eagle react differently to the threat of a storm.  A turkey reacts by running under the barn, hoping the storm won’t come near.  On the other hand, an eagle leaves the security of its nest and spreads its wings to ride the air currents of the approaching storm, knowing they will carry it higher in the sky than it could soar on its own.  Based on your reaction to the storms in life, which are you?  A turkey or an eagle?

It’s natural for me to be a turkey in my emotions, but I have chosen to be an eagle in my spirit.  And as I have spread my wings of faith to embrace the ‘Wind,’ placing my trust in Jesus and Jesus alone, I have experienced quiet, ‘everyday’ miracles:

His joy has balanced my pain.

His power has lifted my burden.

His peace has calmed my worries.

So…would you spread your wings of faith and soar?!

By Anne Graham Lotz from “The Joy Of My Heart: Meditating Daily on God’s Word”

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