With These Broken Wings

“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭40:31‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I do not respond well to rude or arrogant men. I do not respond well to anything that I interpret as rude, arrogant or controlling especially if it’s a man that displays it. I am not a man hater, nor am I a feminazi. My reactions stem from my experiences with men who repeatedly did not act as a man should.

I grew up with a single mom. My biological father abandoned us when I was only two. When I was three years old, my mother married the man I called “daddy”. For four years I felt the most love and security I have ever known. God blessed me with a man who chose to raise me as his own child even though we had no genetic ties. I firmly believe it’s the reason I love so many children as as if they were my flesh and blood. But my daddy died. And I spent the remainder of my childhood and teenage years being raised by a single mom.

I grew up around alcoholics and abusive men. One of these men screamed at me so much that I vomited. Another took me into a room, turned the lights off and started yelling just to scare me because he knew I was afraid of the dark. I never had a male teacher that I liked or respected. To this day I struggle with male authority because I am simply inexperienced with it.

After my daddy died I longed to feel loved and secure again. My mom did her best and she worked hard to provide for us. I know she loved me and she made a lot of sacrifices for me. She’s the reason I have the strength to persevere through the trials I face as a single mom. But she couldn’t replace the love I lost. She couldn’t give me the amount of love two parents give. After all, that’s humanly impossible. So when I became a teenager I chased after that love through boys and dating relationships.

Most boys I had crushes on didn’t give me the time of day. The ones who did tended to be trouble with a capital T. My senior year, I was blessed to meet a young man who became my boyfriend all through college. He was funny, kind, loving and very protective. He definitely seem to be the answer to what I had been missing. But we were young, immature and hadn’t the first clue on how to make a relationship work. Our relationship eventually ended based on the decision that we were better off friends than in a romantic relationship. When it ended, the void began again.

Over the next few years I found myself drawn to men who had zero desire of settling down and making an actual commitment. They were mostly looking for a woman who wanted to party in various forms. Time and time again I was left disappointed and feeling undesirable. Yet I kept chasing after this desire to be chosen. I defined my self worth based on whether a man would choose me or not. Because I was rarely chosen, I convinced myself I had no value.

Since that college relationship, I’ve had two other long term relationships. One produced my two children. The other occurred a few years ago. Neither filled the void, made me feel loved or protected. Both brought more insecurity than I was able to handle. One was dangerously toxic and consisted of years of being emotionally torn down. The other should’ve never happened because I was incredibly broken and hadn’t even begun healing from the first one. A bird who tries to fly again with broken wings only ends up hurting itself more. That’s exactly what happened in the latter relationship.

Bitterness engulfed my heart like a neglected garden overtaken by weeds. I grew critical and more distrusting of men. I closed myself off to dating. To be honest, I also had some very angry moments with God. Many times I asked God what I did wrong to deserve such maltreatment. After all, suffering can be the result of our own mishaps. But it can also be something that God allows to happen or even brings upon us as part of His refinement process.

Through the years God has tugged at me to begin the healing process. That starts with laying down my brokenness and surrendering my past completely to Him. That is not an easy thing to do. As exhausting as it is to carry around heavy burdens, they’re a constant reminder to stay guarded and work as a shield to keep me from getting hurt or broken again. But God won’t heal me if I’m not willing to tear down the wall and lay my burdens down. He beckons all of us to come to Him, weary and heavy laden, and promises to give us rest. (Matthew 11:28).

Another part of the healing process is confessing my bitter heart and choosing to forgive those who have wounded me. But I don’t want to. I don’t want to forgive the man who abandoned me or the one who yelled at me. I certainly don’t want to forgive the one who cheated, the one who lied, or the one who was only interested in me for “one thing.” I don’t want to forgive the one who continues to text me harassing messages and just recently admitted to “hating my guts”. But want to and have to are two different things. I don’t want to forgive them but God tells me I have to. Not for their sake, I have to forgive them for my own. I also have to forgive them as an act of obedience to God. (Ephesians 4:31-32.) Right now I’m at the stage where I can confess my unforgiving heart and seek God’s help in changing my desire to choose forgiveness.

Once I choose to lay my past down and practice forgiveness, I then have to face my fear of getting hurt once again. This doesn’t mean I start chasing after relationships or become a serial dater. This means I seek discernment in establishing healthy friendships and even professional relationships with men. This also means learning to understand and decipher how men communicate to avoid becoming easily defensive or even shutting down. Too often I’ve assumed the man I think is offending me is like the others from my past. Eventually, God willing, it will mean opening my heart up to the man He will send me who will choose to love, respect and protect me. If that happens, it also means not punishing this man for the mistakes of those from my past.

Lastly-and this one is key-God has been teaching me that no human being, male or female, parent or spouse, can provide the love and protection I truly desire. He is the only One who can. (Jeremiah 31:3; Deuteronomy 31:6) No one I chase, nothing I seek comfort in will ever fill the void I have like Jesus can. Chasing after anything or anyone else is idolatry and God

refuses to have any other gods before Him. (Exodus 20:3)

When a bird breaks its wings, the wings can be immobilized and the bird is ground bound. Although tying the bird’s wings down keeps the bird’s travel abilities restricted, its a necessary part of the healing process. When the wings are healed, the restriction is lifted and the bird can soar once again. When the human heart is broken it becomes immobilized too. It can shut down and even become paralyzed,metaphorically speaking. It’s in these moments we need to allow God to wrap Himself around us and heal us from the inside out. His healing brings wholeness, renews our spirits and strengthens us to soar on wings like eagles.

Currently, my heart is still immobilized because I have chosen the path of self healing instead of walking through the process God’s way. He remains faithful though. He has sent me a handful of kind, godly and selfless male friends who have been encouragers, and helpers. He even blessed me with an older gentleman who treats me like one of his own children teaching me how a man should father a daughter. God never ceases to awe me that’s for sure.

Has your heart been broken? Do you feel crushed? Have you been abused or treated harshly? Do you struggle with relationships with the opposite sex? Are you longing for the freedom of walking in His healing power? Is your past keeping you bitter? Is fear holding you back from letting go or choosing forgiveness? Take a step toward the healing process by simply confessing to God exactly where your heart is, admitting to carrying around old wounds and trust Him to remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26

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Do You Miss Him or Are You Just Lonely?

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

Proverbs 4:23 NIV

***This post is for every woman who finds herself pining away for the man who broke her heart or simply wasn’t her Mr. Right.***

When you first met him he seemed like everything you had been praying for.  Maybe he was charming, maybe affectionate, maybe he studied the bible, or maybe he just said all the right things.  Whatever he was displaying, you fell quickly and you fell hard.  In a few short moments, you found yourself head over heels in love.  He appeared to be feeling the same way and life as you knew it just. seemed. perfect.

At some point you started dreaming of a future with him.  Maybe it was after your first kiss or maybe it was after he said “I love you” the first time.  Maybe your future consisted of a beach wedding at sunset or seeing yourselves growing old together sitting on a porch swing cuddled under a wool blanket during an autumn afternoon.  At some point talk of the future arose and he seemed to share the same dream. You found yourself in the relationship you were looking for and life. seemed. perfect.

Then came the moment you wanted to make the dream a reality and suddenly he sits on a fence of indecision.  Or maybe he changes the subject when you bring it up or makes excuses when you push for a deeper commitment.  Maybe he completely ghosts you and you’re left wondering what went wrong.  More devastating, maybe he found someone new and replaced you like a pair of old shoes.  No matter the circumstance or how it happens, this man of your dreams walks out of your life and you’re left alone and heart broken.

Alone.  For a large family or a person who is continuously surrounded by large crowds, this word means peace, tranquility and rest.  For someone who longs for relationship, thrives on interpersonal connection or desires human touch, alone is a word that brings up feelings of abandonment, rejection or can lead to questioning one’s self worth.

Alone is just a word in the dictionary and loneliness is simply a state of mind.   There are times I feel alone.  Sometimes I feel most alone when I’m in a crowd that I don’t feel like I belong in.  Other times when I’m home alone and I’m counting my blessings, I feel overwhelmed with the amount of friendships and the loving family I have been gifted.

There are times I also feel lonely.  Those are the times that can get dangerous for people.  You see, loneliness is a feeling that can really tug at one’s heart and travel one’s mind down memory lane.  During that journey we find ourselves remembering little things about a former lover.  Lonely memories don’t usually trigger the red flags in the relationship.  Lonely memories trigger all the things that made you fall in love with the person-and those memories tug at your heart strings a little too hard.

Sometimes those memories make you think you miss the one who walked away.  The more you meditate on the memories, the more you miss him and you may find yourself longing to be in a relationship with him again.  You may even find yourself praying, asking God to bring you back together.  If you entertain this too long, you could become convinced you two were meant to be together and take action to reunite.

A trip down this kind of memory lane is a slippery slope that needs to be stopped before your mind even thinks about turning down that road.  One way to do that is to take the thoughts captive and recognize what triggered them.  Maybe a love song started playing, maybe their name was spoken or you ran into someone that looked just like them.  Whatever it was, recognize it.  Then remind yourself of what you don’t miss.  Maybe you don’t miss the lies they told. Maybe you don’t miss feeling like you never measured up to their expectations.  Maybe you don’t miss being cheated on.  I am confident most of us could say we don’t miss the excuses they made for not committing or the emotional roller coaster ride they put us on with their “Come close then get away” behavior.  Whatever their character flaws were that broke your heart-list them out to remind yourself of what you don’t want in a relationship.

Then, recognize what you do miss, not in the person, rather list the behaviors that you miss.  For example-maybe you miss the daily texts messages and how it felt to be pursued.  Maybe you miss having someone to study God’s word with and to share in depths conversations about scripture.  Maybe you miss having someone pray for you and with you.  Maybe you miss the laughter and jokes that only the two of you shared or the silly nicknames you called each other when the relationship seemed solid and loving. Those are all good things to miss.

But guess what.  Those things you’re missing aren’t qualities that only your ex possesses.  They are universal character traits that you can find in someone else-someone who will love you exactly as you are, someone who won’t lie, cheat or play games with you and someone who will choose to commit to you.  That someone is your “Mr. Right” and God will lead him to you when you’re most ready to receive that kind of love.

Why?  Because you are marriage material and you are worth making a lifetime commitment to-hands down.  How do I know this?  Because Jesus proved it when He died on the cross long before you or I even existed.  There maybe things that God wants to change in you and some areas of refinement needed before you meet the one He designed for you.  Just know this-when the time is right, the Lord will make it happen. (Isaiah 60:22) In the meantime, don’t pine away for someone who isn’t pining away for you.  Turn your focus on Jesus-He promises to go before you and to never leave you nor forsake you. (Deut. 31:6.)  One more thing-the next time a love song comes on and you feel loneliness knocking at your door-change the station or make the song about your love for Jesus and remind yourself just how much you are loved by Him. Meditate on His word-especially on scriptures that reinforce that you are never alone and will bring you comfort when you do feel lonely.  Never turn back to one that rejected you.  That can only open the door to an endless cycle of broken heartedness. Don’t chase after another Mr. Wrong in effort to fill the void that rejection left. Chase after the One who is always with you, Who is near to the broken hearted and Who is the Creator of Agapé.

Please know this post was not written out of bitterness or with a man-hating heart. This is not an anti-man post nor is this an assumption that all break-ups are bad. This post was triggered after I found myself missing a friend and the steps I took to help me recognize what I was truly missing. There are examples listed of some things that have happened to me in past relationships but this isn’t triggered toward one specific person. This post also lists common examples that happen to anyone involved in a toxic relationship or simply found themselves having feelings for the wrong person. I pray those who read it, male or female, especially those who may be struggling to move on, find encouragement and maybe, just maybe, the strength to take that first step of allowing God to heal your broken heart.

For My November Pearl

“I will give thanks and praise to You, for [my daughter] is fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works and my soul knows it very well.”

Psalm 139:14 AMP

“So God created [my daughter] in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created [her]…”

Genesis 1:27 AMP

“For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which he set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].”

Ephesians 2:10 AMP

When I look into your youthful amber colored eyes, I see uncertainty in who you are and who you were born to be.  I see hope and fear battling for your future as you strive to feel accepted while processing the wounds you’ve already experienced in such a short life span.

When you look into my aging gray colored eyes I want you to see everything I know you are capable of being.  I want you to see the best-selling author, Grammy winning song writer and stage performing guitar player I see whenever I read one your stories, hear you sing and listen as you teach yourself how to play the guitar.   My eyes will forever see you as Bruno Mars describes when he sings, “When I see your face, there’s not a thing that I would change. ‘Cuz you’re amazing, just the way you are.”

When you look into Jesus’ eyes, I pray you see everything He made you to be and most importantly, I pray you see yourself the way He has always seen you-precious, treasured and immeasurably loved.  I pray you know how to look into the eyes of Jesus and seek to see yourself and your life the way He designed it no matter what disappointments may be waiting for you.  Life is full of disappointments.  But life is fuller of blessed joys that make your heart beam with an unexplainable joy.

I remember the night I went into labor for you.  It was one week before your due date and I could not get comfortable.  I was completely over being pregnant to say the least.  I put my hand on my incredibly oversized protruding belly and said, “Baby girl, you need to come out because momma is tired of being pregnant.”  You listen because at 12:30am my water broken.  During labor you and I had another mother/daughter talk.  After 12 hours of labor with what felt like non-stop contractions and pushing for nearly an hour and a half, with shear exhaustion I said, “Baby girl, you need to be born because momma is tired of pushing.”  And you listened-it wasn’t long after the hospital room was filled with screeches of a newborn baby girl and sobs from both your momma and meme simply in awe that you were finally here-all 9 pounds 2 ounces of baby girl perfection.

When you were little I would trace your face at bedtime.  Before I would begin, I would say, “Let me get out my magic crayon and draw a picture of perfection.”  I “drew” your eyes, your button nose, your perfect pink lips.  I would tap my fingers across both cheeks to cover every freckle that God had sprinkled on your face.  I would even draw your chin, eyebrows and hair.  In the end, I would brush my fingers across your whole face and say, “Voila, a picture of perfection.”  Do you know that’s really the way I see you-imperfectly perfect, a precious gem that is completely irreplaceable?  A treasure that is to be loved, cared for, protected and admired for the beauty that she holds within.

My heart breaks every time I watch you look at yourself in the mirror and profess that you are “ugly.”  Baby girl-God does not make ugly.  You are His creation, therefore, it’s impossible for you to be anything less than stunning.  If you would look at the sunrises and sunsets God gifts us every day, if you would take time to gaze upon the majesty of the stars spread across a multitude of galaxies and know the same God who designs these natural spectacles is the same God who designed you, I know you could believe you’re more spectacular and breath taking than any awestruck beauty of nature.  After all, God designed all of us in His image and God is definitely not ugly.

Before you were born I never knew if I would ever carry a child within me or if God would ever make me a mother.   When I was your age, I told God to not make me a mother.  I believe my exact words were, “If you’re a smart God, you won’t make me a mother.” In my defense, this was spoken out of frustration because your uncle, at that time my bratty little 2-year-old brother was exasperating me.  And at the age of 25, findings from a surgery I endured left me with only a 50% chance to even conceive.

Can I just say I am so incredibly thankful that God answered that request with a big “heck no” and blessed me with you and your brother?  You two are the best part of me and since you are my first born all of your “firsts” hold a meaning that cannot be compared to anything else because it’s the first time I have a child experience that stage of life.  Just like since your brother is the youngest, all of his “lasts” hold a different special meaning because it’s the last time I will have a child experience that.  This will make more sense to you when someday God calls you to be a mom and gifts you with your favorite person on this planet, your baby girl or boy.

When I carried you in the womb, I would read my favorite children’s stories, Charlotte’s Web and Corduroy, aloud to you every night before falling asleep.  Sometimes Cinderella too.  I know this reading impacted you even before you took your first breath because you have such a love for writing and reading books and you even wore a Cinderella dress to your most recent formal dance.  That reading time continued when you were a toddler reading Stuart Little to you to get you to fall asleep at bed time. The book had minimal pictures so momma told you to close your eyes and see the pictures in your mind.  I know this helped grow your creativity but can I tell you a secret?  It also helped you fall asleep before I was through one chapter of the book.  Which meant your tired momma could the fall asleep too.

Now that you’re older and striving to be your own person,  you call me the “safety police”.  Do you know how crazy protective I was when you were little?  Girl-I freaked out the first weird virus you had thinking it was like the bubonic plague and was really just something you most likely picked up from touching a grocery cart, similar to having a common cold.  I know you get annoyed with the boundaries I set for you, the lectures I give about drugs/alcohol usage, stranger danger, social media usage, etc.  I know you think it’s because I don’t trust you but that’s not true.  None of us were born with an innate sense of making safe choices.  Wisdom is something that is taught and learned.  My helicopter parenting is only a means to guide you into making your own wise choices with each year you grow but also a way to protect you from all the evils this world holds.  You know I’m a glass half full kind of momma which means I’ve taught you there’s more good in the world than evil but sadly we just cannot look at every person who crosses our path through rose colored lenses.

The day you were born forever changed me because I no longer could make any decision that would impact just me-everything I did and continue to do I have to think about how it will affect you and your brother.  I know I fail often kiddo-but I do strive to put you guys first and always have your best interests at heart.  If I could wish anything for your life, it would be that you would seek Christ above all the things you chase after in this world because although the things you pursue you think are saving you, Jesus is the only one who can truly save any of us.  I would wish that you would understand how loved and valuable you truly are so when rejection rears its ugly head it won’t crush you because you’ll be standing on an indestructible foundation of secure love.  Lastly I would wish for you to chase after every dream you aspire never letting fear or self-doubt keep you from at least going for it.  After all, you simply will never know what will happen if you do not try.

I thank God for you and your brother every day.  I thank God for giving me the greatest job in this lifetime which was to carry you, give birth to you, raise you and to forever be your mum. Every day since the day I found out I was going to be your mother, you and your brother have always given me a thousand and one reasons to smile.  Until Jesus calls me home that will never change.

A Modern Day Hester

If you’ve ever read the novel, The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, you are familiar with the main character, Hester Prynne, who was publicly punished for having an affair.  Her punishment included imprisonment and standing in the town square for hours wearing a red A on her clothing (the A stood for adulteress.)  Hester had a child by her lover but chose to never disclose who the lover was despite the threatening pressure she endured.  In fact, the only time she fought back was when select townspeople threatened to take her child away when the child started acting out.  The story is full of deception, secret lives and guilt stricken consciences.  In the end, Hester carries on, wearing her scarlet A with no healing from the mistake she made.

I am a modern day Hester.  Now before I go any further let me clarify-this is NOT a confession of having an affair nor am I pregnant with a love child.  But-I have made some pretty sinful mistakes in my life and if I had lived in the puritan era like Hester, I would’ve been her cell mate. My scarlet letter probably would have covered my entire body.  Like I said, this is not a confession. In fact, guilt rarely even has control over me anymore.  This is transparency for my readers in hopes to raise awareness of forgiveness, mercy, grace and healing.

I was called a “loser” recently.  Being call that not only shocked me but it greatly stung.  In fact, in nearly knocked me down.  I was called a loser because of a mistake I made.  It was a mistake made from a broken heart and out of mass confusion. I confessed it not only to God but to the person who called me this name trusting that person would be understanding and forgiving. They weren’t.  They were angry and instead of mercy and grace, they verbally pinned me with a big old scarlet L (for loser.)  This is not the first time I’ve been called names for making a mistake.  My “favorites” are being called “a head case” when I had post-partum depression, and “a financial disaster” because I struggle with money management.

We are all human.  We ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23.) David was an adulterer and a murderer.  Do you know what God did to him?  Made him king of Judah.  Moses was also a murderer and a coward.  God chose him to take on Pharaoh and lead God’s chosen people out of slavery.  Rahab was a prostitute and God used her to hide His spies who came later to conquer the city she lived in.  God did punish them-David and Bathsheba lost the child that was conceived by their affair.  Moses was exiled for 40 years after committing murder and I’m sure Rahab lived a fairly miserable life as a prostitute.  But God also redeemed them.  And once redeemed, He then promoted them!  That’s just how God works.

God doesn’t call us names.  If He is tearing us down it’s only to remove the bad.  Any tear down from God is guaranteed to have a major build up and fill up with His forgiveness, grace and mercy. God calls us to the do same with each other.  His word is full of scriptures like; “But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith… (Jude 1:21), “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11), “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:23-25) and “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8.)  The Bible does call us to admonish one another but He does not call us to shame or condemn one another.  In fact, He says the opposite in Romans 8:1; “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.”  That verse is pretty straight forward and if your Christian walk is anything like mine then we both need straight forward, aye?

Driving to work today, God reminded me of Hawthorne’s novel.  He played a Casting Crowns song for me on the radio with these lyrics,

“Not because of who I am

But because of what You’ve done.

Not because of what I’ve done

But because of who You are…

Lord, You catch me when I’m falling.

And You’ve told me who I am.

I am Yours, I am Yours…

Who am I, that the eyes that see my sin

Would look on me with love and watch me rise again?” ~Who am I

He then spoke to me with these words, “You don’t wear a scarlet A or L, Beloved.  The blood I shed on the cross for you removed every transgression I knew you would commit in your lifetime.  Beloved, the cross took that A and L away.  I have emblazoned you with a new letter-a V, washed white as snow.  It stands for the victory you have in Me.”

Ironically, when googling those above song lyrics, I stumbled upon the lyrics to one of my favorite songs by Jessica Andrews.  It’s called, Who I am.  The second verse in this song is my anthem;

“So when I make big mistake

When I fall flat on my face

I know I’ll be alright

Should my tender heart be broken

I will cry those teardrops knowin’

I will be just fine

‘Cause nothin’ changes who I am..”

I know who I am.  I am not a loser, a head case or a financial disaster.  Who am I?  A modern day Hester redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ.  I AM the DAUGHTER of the ONE TRUE KING, His Princess and His only.  No cruel word will ever change that.

For those living in a pit of guilt and shame-get out!  Shake it off and straighten your crown.  For you too are redeemed, washed white as snow and wear a V for victory on your heart.  Live victoriously as the son or daughter of Christ that you were made to be.  For those casting stones, stop it!  Stop forming a firing squad.  If your heart is hurting and your angry then pause and pray.  Ask God to fill you with the grace and mercy for those whose mistakes hurt you.  But remember what Jesus said to the Pharisees who wanted to condemn a woman caught in adultery in John 8:7, “They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” God called us to be bridge builders-not stone throwers.

Eye Spy

People tell me I have beautiful eyes.   I don’t say that with arrogance or as bragging rights.  Honestly, I don’t always believe it.  When I look in the mirror all I see is puffiness, wrinkles and dark circles.  But when others look at them, they see a sparkling blue that sometimes captivates them I guess.  Seriously-just last month, while shopping for sunglasses a female store clerk stopped and said, “I don’t want to sound weird but you have really pretty eyes.  I mean they really just pop.”  I laughed, thanked her and may have said it was ok if she meant it weird I’d still take it as a compliment.  I’ve had many male suitors drop the “you have gorgeous eyes” line on me a handful of times also.  In my younger naïve years I would fall for it but since hearing it so much I tend to just respond with “thank you” or “I’ve heard that before.”  But when asked what I think my best feature is, I will say my eyes simply because it’s what I get complimented on the most.

They say the eyes are the window to the soul.  I think I’d have to agree with that.  I’ve seen people with dark souls and their eyes tend to be shifty and beady.  I’ve seen mothers look at their children and watched joy dance through their eyes.  I’ve also seen mothers look at those same children and watched terror or sheer embarrassment displayed through their eyes depending on how their children are behaving.  I’ve seen tired eyes, tearful eyes, eyes that show deep despair.  And unfortunately, I’ve seen eyes glassed over from drugs and alcohol-those eyes can have a complete blankness to them implying the emptiness the person must be feeling inside.

Yesterday I noticed a set of eyes that spoke something else.  I’ve seen these eyes before.  In fact I’ve seen them many times for more than half my life time.  But yesterday I really noticed them.  These eyes displayed a genuine kindness and a humble heart. There was no judgment behind those eyes.  In fact, the person’s mouth didn’t just smile, they smiled with their eyes.  Have you have ever had the fortune of seeing that?  I’m sure I have in the past but those smiling eyes yesterday really got my attention.  There’s was an acceptance I’ve never noticed before but looking back, in all the years I’ve known this person, they have always looked at me with that same acceptance.

God really drew my attention to those eyes yesterday.  I believe He was showing me how He looks at us-with kindness, humility, unconditionally and without judgement.  And no matter what our pasts look like, how much we screw up the present or what the future holds, He always looks at us with acceptance.  Romans 8:38 tells us nothing can separate us from His love.  Jeremiah 31:3 tells us God loves us with an everlasting love-with unfailing love He draws Himself to each of us.  Even though in Revelation 1 it describes Christ’s eyes like flames of fire (vs 14) I believe those flames show the power, passion and unabandoned love He has for each of us.  When God looks upon each of us I believe He doesn’t just smile, His eyes dance with joy and smile too.

If the eyes really are the window to your soul, and my eyes are viewed as “beautiful”, I hope and pray that people see beauty in my soul as well.  But most importantly, I pray they see Christ’s love radiating from my soul through my eyes and that light penetrates their soul as well.

O How He Loves Me (& You)

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”

Psalms 91:4 NIV

Yesterday I came home to a package in my mailbox from a darling friend I met almost 20 years ago when I lived in another state.  She was actually one of the first friends I made in that state and one of the few I’ve been able to keep even after I moved back home.  Throughout the years God used her to be a tool of encouragement for me, to be His voice when I needed accountability and to know just how much He truly loves me.

This friend’s love language is definitely the gift of giving.  At least 2-3 times a year I receive a surprise in the mail from her; a Power of the Praying Woman bible, a handful of devotional books,  a bracelet with a crown on it reminding me that I am royalty because I am a daughter of the King, even a mouse pad with a picture of my children when they were just a toddler and infant (of which I still use everyday at work.)  She’s definitely a giver, and she never expects anything in return.  The best gift I can give her is quality time by means of a scheduled phone call (because our lives are so busy if we didn’t make phone “dates” we’d never stay in touch) that entails me mostly talking about myself (because she just enjoys listening and encouraging and sincerely wants to know how she can pray for me.)  She’s even taught her son, whom I’ve never been able to meet face-to-face, but is the same age as my son, to pray for me and my children.  It’s endearing to know there’s a child out there praying for us simply because his mom loves us and treasures the friendship she and I share.  Other than my time and my friendship, this amazing woman wants nothing else from me but to see me be the woman God made me to be.

She’s the epitome of Christ-He too, is a friend who’s love language is giving.  He loved us so much He gave His only begotten son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16.)  He sacrificed His Beloved for our salvation.  Matthew 7:11 tells us;  “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him (NLT).”  He gifts us with the beauty of His creation, with breath everyday we open our eyes, and with an unconditional love that is almost incomprehensible.  He shows His love through unexpected blessings and the gift of godly friendships.

What does He want in return-our commitment to spend quality time with Him.  Just like a friend who lives in another state or even another country, in order to keep a strong relationship with Christ, we need to schedule daily time with Him, time in His Word, time in conversational prayer with Him and time to be still, listening for His guiding voice.  God wants to be up close and personal with you and me each every day.  He desires that we give Him the first moments of our day.  But He waits for us to come to Him.  He longs to hear us talk to Him like we talk to the humans we love dearly.  We can tell Him about our day even though He knew about it before it occurred.  We can express our fears, our worries, our deepest angst to Him and He will listen.  In fact, He will do more than listen. If we surrender to Him, He promises to deliver us from everything that holds us back from His best for our lives.  Did you catch that last sentence?  God is our Best Friend, because He longs to give us His best and His best is better than anything we could gain on our own.

If you’re reading this, I hope this encourages you to make Christ your best friend.  Schedule time everyday to be with Him.  Become so familiar with talking to Him, that like me, you have a conversation with Him aloud in your morning commute to work not worrying about what you look like when a passerby sees you and thinks you’re talking to yourself.

God showed His love for me yesterday through my friend’s gift.  It was a necklace with a feather charm (pictured above) and Psalm 91:4 written on a card.  He knew I would open the package in my car at the exact time Chris Tomlin’s Good Good Father was playing on the radio.  Tears flowed into sobs as I read the words of Psalms 91:4, the words my darling friend wrote in a note card and listened to these lyrics while also staring in awe at the gorgeous necklace laying in my hands;

“You are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways to us

“Oh, it’s love so undeniable
I, I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable
I, I can hardly think

“As you call me deeper still
Into love, love, love

“You’re a Good, Good Father
It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
And I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am…”

He is perfect in all of His ways and He loves us-undeniably.

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.

I’m Not Gonna Write You a Love Song….

Ever listen to the lyrics of “Love Song” by Sara Bareilles?  In it she sings, “I’m not gonna write you a love song, cause you ask for it, cause you need one, you see, I’m not gonna write you a love song, cause you tell me it’s make or break in this, if you’re on your way.  I’m not gonna write you to stay, all you have is leaving, Imma need a better reason to write you a love song, today.”  I heard once she was inspired to write this song after a record company demanded she write them a love song for production.  This could be fact or fiction but personally, I love her response to their demand and I love the song.

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and as they say, “love is in the air.”  I’ve been thinking about a blog topic on the subject and then recently I heard the above named song.  It validated my thoughts on the subject of Valentine’s Day and love.

February 14th is a day filled with many emotions.  For those married or in a relationship there is an expectation of romantic gestures that may include the traditional chocolates, flowers, jewelry and/or candle lit dinners.  For those unattached, there’s a reminder that they are, well, still unattached.  To some single folks, it’s a day they are even more thankful to be unattached because the pressure to meet romantic expectations from their significant other is non-existent.  But this can also be a day of great disappointment when, if you’re attached, your significant other fails to “deliver” or meet your idea of romance.  All in all, it’s a day filled with great expectations, false hopes and honestly, is a worldly view of love.

In thinking about what to write for this post, I researched the history of Valentine’s Day. What I discovered was a man sainted for privately marrying young lovers who were forbidden to marry because the leader of that day thought young unmarried men made for better warriors than those who had wives and children.  He was reportedly martyred for his actions.  The day is believed to be named after him because he reportedly sent a letter signed “Your Valentine” to a woman he loved just before his death.  So the holiday is possibly named after a man who believed in marriage to the point it cost him his life.  Yet somehow it’s been turned in to a commercialized holiday that measures love by expensive gifting and big romantic gestures.

I confess to you that for years I bought in to the romantic notions of Valentine’s Day.  When I was in a relationship I hoped for chocolates, cards that expressed my partner’s deep love for me, roses (of course!) and a romantic night out at a fancy restaurant.  I am, after all, a hopeless romantic.  I love romantic comedy movies, especially when the lovers split up but get back together in the final moments of the movie and you’re left to assume they live “happily ever after.”  My favorite fairytale was Cinderella and yes, there were days I dreamt of a prince rescuing me.

Funny thing about reality though-it’s not as romantic as the movies or the fairytales.  I experienced some very wonderful Valentine’s Days only to be dumped later on and feeling like everything was just a lie.  I have also spent many more Valentine’s Days single, alone and throwing a pity party believing I was undesirable and not relationship or marriage material.

This past year I let go of a false love I had been holding on to most of my life.  It took someone I thought I deeply loved, behaving in a cowardly manner to push me to explore what real love is.  My journey led me to 1 Corinthians 13 (Love is patient and kind, etc.) and 1 John 4 (God is love, we love because He first loved us.)  It also took me to Romans 9 which talks about love being sincere (don’t just pretend to love others, really love them.)  In the book of Psalms I discovered an unconditional love that supersedes any kind of human love, even between a parent and child.  I studied the different types of love in the Greek language also.  In all my exploration I learned that real love is my real God.

My God sacrificed Himself, His life even, for my salvation.  He seeks to spend quality time with me every day.  He desires to have the most intimate relationship a human and spiritual being can share with me.  THAT is real love.  He doesn’t send me chocolates but He gifts me with fields of wild flowers every summer.  He doesn’t sing me love songs but He wrote the book of Psalms and the Song of Solomon reminding me of His unfailing, uninhibited love for me.  He doesn’t shower me with expensive jewelry but He makes the water look like diamonds when His sunshine dances across the waves.  He doesn’t take me out to romantic dinners, but I have coffee with Him every morning while reading His word and my devotionals.

If you’re married or in a romantic relationship, ask yourself this question:  Does my partner love me like Jesus does?  Do I love my partner the same way?  If the answer is yes, praise God for experiencing His real love through your partner and for using you to be His tool of love also.  If the answers is no, ask God to show you how you can start loving your partner like He loves you this very day.

If you’re single remember this, singlehood doesn’t define you.  It’s a simply a relationship status.  But since God never leaves us nor forsakes us, you are never alone.  The next time somebody asks you about if you’re dating or married, just tell them you’re in a committed relationship with God and He’s the best partner a person could ever ask for.

One last reminder before I close-Just like we shouldn’t be thankful only one day of the year like on Thanksgiving Day, we also shouldn’t be focused on love one day year either.  LOVE is a daily choice to show toward everyone God puts in your path.  Let February 14th come and go and choose to love every day because God doesn’t just love you on Valentine’s Day.  He shows His love for us every day.

What is Love-Baby don’t hurt me no more…

There’s a popular song from the 1990’s called “What is Love.”  The lyrics begin with; “What is love, baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt no more.”  Moving past the double negative in there (and if you’re part of the grammar police like me, you’ll know what I mean) we can see how the author is writing about a broken heart.  Clearly, someone used the infamous phrase; “I love you” and then took it back.  Or at least, their actions did not back up the words.

“What is love?” is a great question to explore.  In the Greek language, there are various words used for the word “love.”  Eros is a type of erotic love, philos describes a love between friends, storge is the kind of love shared between parents and their children, and agape’ is unconditional love.  But in the English language, we have one word and that is “love.”  We use it to describe anything and anyone we feel affectionately strong about.  We say, “I love my children, I love my job, I love my dog, I love that dress, I love those shoes, I love football, etc.”  The same word…yet definitely with different meanings.  I am confident the love we feel toward our children is not the same as a sport, article of clothing or even the family pet.  Yet, it’s the same word.  And too often, it’s a word that is misused or misspoken.

At times, in a budding relationship, “I love you” is spoken prematurely. Other times in a heated argument, “I DON’T LOVE YOU” is impulsively shouted out but not necessarily meant.  With just one word with so many meanings, it’s no wonder songs are written with the question, “What is love?”

When I have questions I can’t answer, I look to God’s word.  That includes learning about love.  I could quote 1 Corinthians 13, also known as the “love chapter.”  But honestly for me, love is “patient, kind, not self-seeking, not rude, etc.” doesn’t clearly spell out to me the big picture of what love truly is.  I had to dig deeper.  The answer I found was this…GOD.  IS.  LOVE.  And as cliché as that sounds, let me show you why.

I John 4:8 clearly spells out that God is love.  Exploring the chapter farther verse 16 tells us the same thing, God is love.  What I learned was when we understand who God is we can understand what love really is.

So who is God?  The basics, God is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  He is also our Creator, our Savior, our Provider, our Protector, our Salvation and so much more.  God is the epitome of discipline, self-control, commitment, faithfulness, justice and mercy, acceptance, sacrifice and forgiveness.  There are too many verses to list that can back this up-but if you don’t believe me, read the book of Psalms for starters.

David knew love because he knew God’s love.  His Psalms are filled with declaration of praise and adoration to his Heavenly Father even during his darkest hours because he knew God loved him no matter what.  Understanding God’s love enabled David to love even his enemies.  2 Samuel chapter 1 shows us David grieved King Saul’s death-a man who repeatedly sought to murder David.  David was a man after God’s own heart because he knew what real love was.

God calls us to know and understand His love for us so that we can show real love to those in our lives, including our enemies.  1 John 4:19 tells us, “We love each other because He loved us first.”  This means to really love others, we have to know, understand and accept God’s love for us first.  When we love others in our human strength we base it on feelings, what mood we’re in that day or how the other person is treating us. It’s based on conditions. Loving others through Christ’s strength means we choose love, we choose to show love unconditionally.  The second half of 1 John 4:16 shows us; “all who live in love live in God and God lives in them.”  1 John 4:21 goes further by reminding us that “…those who love God must also love their fellow believers.”  John 13:34 and 35 says; “…love each other.  Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.  Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are My disciples.”  Notice none of those verses say, “love others when they love you back” or “show love only when someone is being kind to you.”

God loves us.  His love never fails.  His mercies are new each day.  He commands us to love each other not just with words-but like 1 John 4:18 says “to show the truth of our love by our actions.”  After all, as the cliché goes, actions speak louder than words.

Do you know, understand and have you accepted God’s love for you?  Do you love others in God’s strength or in your own human strength?  Before you say; “I love you” again, ask yourself this: Do I love this person the way God loves me?  If the answer is “Yes”, then your words will offer that person agape’ (unconditional love.)  But if the answer is “no”-maybe you should hold off saying that three word phrase or at least seek to know Christ’s love better asking Him to equip you to love others as He loves you.  Remember-if God is commitment, justice, mercy, salvation, acceptance, sacrifice, and forgiveness, then that’s exactly what love is too.  Because, God. Is. Love.