The Crying Game 

Ever have a day where everything makes you cry?  That’s my kind of day today.  Struggling with feeling empty, unaccomplished and alone.     I’ve cried on and off all day today.  I could blame it on hormones but the truth is this is a spiritual battle and today I’m letting the enemy steal my joy.

Why am I so emotional today?  Because a blessed event is taking place today that I can’t be a part of.  There’s an ache in my heart that longs to be there instead of here but it’s simply impossible for me to be there.  Someone reading this might be thinking, “Nothing’s impossible with God.” And I would agree with you.  However short of God teleporting me across the world, I won’t physically be there. Even though I’m there in thought and spirit, there’s a hole in my heart because I cannot physically witness this treasured event.
The enemy has grabbed hold of that ache and made the hole in my heart deeper by bombarding me with thoughts of hopelessness and futility.  He’s thrown in a heaping pile of animosity toward someone I’ve already forgiven and he’s throwing me a world class pity party, with him and me the only attendees.

But the Holy Spirit crashed the party and kicked the devil out.  The Almighty “Fun Police” arrested the stealer of my joy and put the lying bandit behind bars.  Once the pity party was over, Jesus prompted me to make a recording singing Child of Love by Sara Groves.  And I did. Then He invited me into His word and cleaned up the remaining remnants of depression by speaking Luke 6:20-23 NLT.

“Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said, “God blesses you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours. God blesses you who are hungry now, for you will be satisfied. God blesses you who weep now, for in due time you will laugh. What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man. When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way.”

‭‭Jesua dried me tears, lifted up my chin to point my face toward His and reminded me that I am blessed simply because I am His precious child of love.

The next time the enemy invites you to a pity party and starts the festivities off with a round of the crying game-call the Almighty Fun Police and have the Holy Spirit kick that joy thief of the property of your heart and mind before one tear falls down your cheek!

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Unconditional

“And they will go to others and say, ‘I have sinned, I have perverted what is right, but I did not get what I deserved. God has delivered me from going down to the pit, and I shall live to enjoy the light of life.  God does all these things to a person-twice, even three times—to turn them back from the pit, that the light of life may shine on them.”              Job 33:27-30

This month, I was facing a $439 deficit that included having to purchase very much needed tires for my vehicle.  I had no idea where the money was going to come from.  I figured a budget multiple times, and  spent a few sleepless nights waking at 2am in a panic wondering how I was going to manage to cover the added expenses without falling behind on my other bills.  I prayed and then I worried, prayed-then worried.

Then I did something else-while I was still worrying, I texted many people asking them to pray for me and for God’s provision.  Asking others to pray for me is a challenge because I wrestle with pride and although I love to help others, I hate being in a position to ask for help.   But I asked, and they prayed.  And God delivered.

The week after Mother’s Day, I found a $100 bill in my purse.  $100 is NOT something I would easily forget and would panic if I lost so I knew it was not money I had placed there.  I learned a darling friend, knowing my prideful heart, slipped it into my purse.  She knew I wouldn’t accept an outright offer and would feel embarrassed and ashamed.  (I had another friend offer to send me the whole $439 but my pride would not let me accept the offer.) I praised God for the $100 blessing but still worried about where the rest would come from.

Time came where I had to get my tires.  I have a Christian mechanic who knows my situation and graciously offered to let me make payments on the purchase of my tires.  When I went in to discuss the payment plan, the officer manager lowered the price of the original quote he gave me saying he was going to make no money off the tires he was selling me.  I thanked him for discounting the price even more.  This meant less I would have to make payments on.  Two days later I had the new tires placed on my vehicle.  I walked into the office and was greeted by the owner of the auto shop whom I’ve become friends with as we attended a 9 month training together recently.  I reminded the owner I was on a payment plan. He handed me a receipt showing $0 balance and told me I didn’t owe him anything.  He wanted to gift me the tires.

Tears welled up in my eyes.  I was so overwhelmed with this generosity, not even my pride could keep me from crying in front of him.  As he hugged me, I told him I couldn’t possibly accept such an elaborate gift. My whole being just felt I didn’t possibly deserve such a gift.   He said he wanted to bless me but if I wasn’t comfortable accepting it then I could pay him.  Before I could respond, the company phone rang and he answered it.  While he was on the phone, another line started ringing.  He was the only one in the office so I offered to help him out by answering the second phone call.  He handed me the phone.  When the two phone calls were taken care, to appease my pride I jokingly told him I had just worked off the tires so I felt better in receiving his gift.  We both laughed and I left the auto shop with a brand new set of tires and a heart filled with an unexplainable awe of God’s goodness and love for me.

Driving home I heard Sidewalk Prophets, But You Loved Me Any Way.  As I sang along to the radio, between sobs I belted out these words:

“I am a thorn in Your crown, But You love me anyway
I am the sweat from Your brow
But You love me anyway
I am the nail in Your wrist
But You love me anyway
I am Judas’ kiss
But You love me anyway
“See now, I am the man who yelled out from the crowd
For Your blood to be spilled on this earth shaking ground
Yes then I turned away with the smile on my face
With this sin in my heart tried to bury Your grace
And then alone in the night I still called out for You
So ashamed of my life, my life, my life…”

I didn’t deserve any of the blessings God bestowed on me this month. In fact, I don’t deserve any blessing He has ever given.  I fail Him every single day.  I start my mornings reading His word and praying only to lose my temper and drop an F-bomb before I walk out the door.  That’s not even a dent in the long list of sins I have committed and will commit in my lifetime.  But God loves me, anyway.

Many scriptures tell us God’s love is unconditional. But it’s only when I receive blessings I don’t deserve that I gain a better understanding of what ‘unconditional’ means.  With every undeserved blessing a piece of pride is plucked from within me, my heart is humbled a little more and I find myself offering greater grace to others because of God’s grace and mercy offered to me.  All praise, glory and honor are lifted up to my Father in Heaven, who is my Great Provider and does not give me what I deserve but delivers me time and time again from going down in the pit.  I know He will do the same for you too because trust me, I’m nobody special. But to God, I’m worth dying for, and so are you.

It’s Just a Little Crush…

“Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, its jealousy as enduring as the grave. Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame.  Many waters cannot quench love, nor can rivers drown it. If a man tried to buy love with all his wealth, his offer would be utterly scorned.”

Song of Solomon 8:6-7NLT

Oh my goodness!  Did you see his smile?  How cute was he?  Do you think he noticed me?  Oh my gosh!  He’s coming over here…don’t act nervous, don’t say the wrong thing…he asked me for my phone number!  Now I wait for his call….

He called…we’re going out.  Could he be “the one?”  He’s so cute…he’s so nice.  Lord, I pray he’s the one…

The date was awesome and Lord-when can I kiss him again?  He’s definitely “the one.”  Lord, please make it happen in Your time and in Your will…

I don’t understand.  Why did he dump me?  What’s wrong with me?  How could he take my love for so many years and then just throw it away in a text message?  My heart is broken.  I’ll never love again…

That guy is cute…is he single…does he notice me…

A vicious cycle a woman endures when she makes the idea of love, men and being in a relationship the god of her life.  I have been that woman.  I meet someone, fall head over heels in love and get my heart broken-repeatedly.  The heartache made me bitter, skeptical and if you ask my family and closest friends, they’d say “closed off to dating” at this point.

Don’t get me wrong, I made my fair share of mistakes in past relationships.  But I also loved each one with all my being.  I talked about them to all of my friends, spent as much time with them as I could, fought hard to hold on to the relationship and in the end lost a few men who never really loved me.  Worst, I lost a piece of me each time.  The biggest mistake I made was worshiping them, putting them first in my life-even above God.

Putting others before God, no matter who it is, is a form of idolatry.  Yes, God calls us to love one another, but He also says, “You must have no other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:3)  He repeatedly warns us that He is a very jealous God.  Deuteronomy 4:24 tells us, “The Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” God is so serious about not wanting us to worship other people that he compares Himself to a consuming fire.  His jealousy for us should devour every part of us to the point that we have no desire to worship anyone or anything else.

God put Song of Solomon 8 on my heart this past week.  He’s been tugging at my heart about idolatry and worshiping people.  When I read verses 6 and 7, the hopeful romantic in me dreamed of a love like Solomon and his wife-a human kind of love, in fact, an Eros kind of love.

Then I re-read this passage and God opened my eyes to see that THIS is how God wants me and all of us to love Him.  When I have a crush, he’s all I talk about, all I think about.  I count down the days until I can see him or talk to him.  With God, I take time spent with Him for granted.  There are days I choose to sleep in rather than read His word and I rarely stop talking in my prayers to listen to His voice.  Sometimes I’m embarrassed to talk about Him with other people.  Yet God, in His patient grace and mercy still seeks me and pursues me daily.  He has me tattooed on His heart, so why don’t I have Him tattooed on mine?  He longs for me (and you) to place Him like a seal over our entire beings.  He showed the strength of His love by dying on the cross for us and conquering death for us.  If His jealousy is a consuming fire, think how more consuming His love for us is.

God’s love cannot be quenched by water or anything else.  Paul tells us in Romans 8, “…that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (verses 38 and 39, NLT) David repeatedly reminds us in Psalms that God’s love is never ending.  And just like we couldn’t do anything to earn our salvation, we can do nothing to buy God’s love.

This week, God has been asking me, “Why am I not your crush?  Why don’t you talk about me the way you’ve talked about those men of your past?  They shattered your heart but I would never leave you wounded, broken or questioning your self-worth.  To Me, you are far greater than rubies.  To me my darling, you surpass them all.”  I had no answer for Him, only conviction in my heart and a realization of the form of idolatry I’ve practiced for far too long.

God wants to be first in my life and yours.  No matter if you’re married, single, divorced, or widowed, God wants to be first-above your spouse, significant other, even before our children.  God first, other second, ourselves third…that’s the order I was taught at a very young age yet fail to practice.  I pray this post opens up every reader’s eyes to examine where God is ranked in their life and to see if there is anyone or anything they are putting in place of God.  If you find something, confess it and know that He forgives.  Don’t shame yourself or allow the enemy to fill you with guilt.  Remember, nothing we do can stop God from loving us.  Let’s all choose to love God like the love described in Song of Solomon 8-like a consuming fire with the brightest flames.  And let’s talk about how awesome He is to everyone we meet like we would if we all had “just a little crush”.

Its Snowing…In May?!!!!

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

Proverbs 19:21 NIV

Like most people I have BIG plans for my life.  As a little girl I aspired to be a Solid Gold dancer or a singing contestant on Star Search.  Don’t judge (but please feel free to laugh out loud!)  Any child of the 80’s with a creative mind like mine and a gift for making a fool out of themselves in front of a crowd, had the same dreams.  When I was 12, I wanted to be president of the United States.  By the time I completed high school my goal was to earn my college degree, get married, become a mom and have a successful career helping troubled teens.  On my 25th birthday I cried-I had only accomplished one of my goals and I was working 3 jobs just to make ends meet.  Now at 40, I am a single mom working 2 jobs, still struggling to make ends meet and clearly in the midst of a mid-life crisis.  Today I want to travel and touch lives all over the world letting people and orphans know they matter and they are loved.

The past couple of months I have been restless- physically, emotionally and spiritually. This restlessness has boiled into fear and anxiety.  It’s become a serious condition like a rash that takes over your entire body or a virus that eats you from the inside out.  It invades my dreams, it wakes me in the middle of the night and it robs my joy during the day.  The simplest task can become easily overwhelming when fear is hitting me full blast.  I become easily angered or I sob.  I’m exhausted but can’t seem to get a good night’s sleep because my mind simply won’t shut down or be still.  People who know this struggle about me often ask what I’m so anxious about.  Sometimes I tell them I don’t know. But I think I’ve figured it out.  I simply feel stuck.  My life feels stuck in a season of winter and at this age of my life, I am afraid I will stay stuck in winter forever.

Did I mention I HATE winter?  I’m speaking of the actual season.  Where I live we get very cold, very long and very snowy/icy winters.  Days are dull and skies are gray.  Many days I drive to and from work in the dark and never see any daylight.  I get quite depressed.  By the time February and March arrive I am anxious for warm days, sun filled skies and for all the snow to melt away.  We tend to get a mid-winter thaw-a few warm days here and there but then we get slammed with more cold, more snow and more ice.  April arrives and I check the weather daily hoping for a hint of even 50 degree (10c) weather.  And in May, I celebrate the colors of green, the blooming of apple blossoms and spring time flowers.  I relish the smell of the first lawn mowing and celebrate the year’s first real thunderstorm.  I buy my park pass and count down the days until the lakes are warm enough to swim in while planning out my beach days for the summer.  My spirits lift as I think snow is finally gone and my toes will be buried in the sand in not time.

This past weekend, in Mid-May, it snowed!  As I woke Sunday morning to a dusting of white powder covering my lawn, I reflected on my life and feeling stuck in a winter season.  I have so many plans for my life, yet none of them seem to be coming to fruition.  It’s like my life has come to a standstill with no hopes of moving forward relationally, financially, spiritually or even in my career.  Seeing that snow outside my window, I thought “That’s it, winter is never going to end, summer is never going to arrive.  All my beach days are never going to happen.”  Reflecting on my life, I tend to think “My dreams are dead.  This is it.  This is as good as it gets.  God just wants me stuck.”

But God has a different answer.  Weather wise, He’s shown it by gifting us with a prediction of 70 degree temps (21c) later this week.  Life wise, He says “Don’t worry,” (Matthew 6:34.) He keeps sending me Proverbs 19:21 and a few other verses like Job 23:14 and Isaiah 46:10.  He gently reminds me that His way is better than my way and I simply need to surrender my hopes and dreams to Him.  After all, every dream He planted in my heart will come to pass in His time.  Because patience is not a virtue I was born with and God knows I LOVE being in control, He makes me wait, refining me and conditioning me into the Kingdom Woman He designed me to be to do the big things He has planned for me.  Dreams He’s already shown me, I’ve turned into idols and tried manufacturing my own miracles instead of trusting Him to bring them to pass.  I always lose when I get in God’s way.

Winter is a time when days are shorter and life slows down.  This winter season in my life is God’s way of teaching me to just “be still.”  I make myself restless because instead of obeying Him, I act like a crazy hamster in a plastic wheel running a race that will never end, chasing after empty things, and going absolutely nowhere.  If you’re in this same season, remember this-a wise woman recently told me, “There’s never been a year summer didn’t come.” With that I will add, there’s not a story in the Bible where God’s dreams and purpose didn’t happen either. Practice being still, practice trusting in Him and read His word every day.  When someone I love dearly was going through an incredibly difficult time, we read the book of Psalms together.  Psalms was the same book suggested to me just this week to read and pray, as a means to overcome my fears and anxiety.

Lastly, find contentment in every day no matter how long you’ve been waiting, longing and praying.  Most importantly-don’t lose hope, but place your hope in the One who gives us something to hope for.