February 14, 2019 ~Happily Ever After!

Skipping from mountaintop to mountaintop can be a beautiful thang. Sunshine and sparkles abound and you will generally find yourself surrounded by folks who adore and live for the mountaintop experience. There is nothing wrong with that feeling or adventure. Who doesn’t love a feel-good moment that lasts forever? It’s like clouds of cream and lightness to keep you floating above the fray.

I only have a couple of problems with this concept. One of those comes in the form of complete exhaustion. Happy-all-the-time totally wears me out. I am not talking about the inner joy and peace that comes with serving God. I am talking about the life-style that tempts everyone to believe you lead a perfect life and nothing bad ever happens. I have known folks to go into full meltdown when life comes at them while they’re speeding down happy trails. They become traumatized over an event that should not take the wind out of their hang-glider experience, but suddenly, they have crashed into the side of a mountain and need a squadron of rescuers to get them back up to the top of the mountain once again.

The other problem I have with this concept is when you exist for the higher-than-a-kite life, you will never learn the value of being content with whatever station in life you find yourself. If you go to church on Sunday to get your fix, by mid-week, your hump day is a major slump day, spiritually. On Sunday, you believe in miracles, bottomless pockets, rainbows around each corner, and everybody loves me. Your mentality has become dependent on how you feel spiritually on Sunday. I love Sundays! Refreshment on the Day of Rest! I love going to church and worshiping with like-minded folks, hearing a word from the Lord that does exactly what it needs to do in my heart and mind. But I cannot sustain the relationship God wants to have with me, the one I depend on having with HIM, based on once or twice a week. Church is important and if you are blessed to have a church family? Well, you like me are certainly blessed.

If you are in a loving relationship with anyone, your spouse, child, grandchild, best friend, or even your pet which you adore, you depend on contact much like your lungs depend on oxygen and your heart depends on the blood pumping through. You talk, text, fb, email, visit. You need that intimacy for survival. I need daily contact with my Lord. I cannot get through the day without conversation with Him, repeatedly, and getting into the Word.

The relationship that is the richest and most rewarding does not happen on it’s own. While Jesus craves time with you, HE will not force HIMself into your daily time. HE might remind you from time to time that HE is still there, but HE never imposes. In that respect, HE is no different from anyone who loves you. They will remind you from time to time of their love, but they would never demand you spend time with them. Spending time with someone is your gift of love to them. You want to be with them, so you plan for those times. You make time even when your schedule is full because it is important to both of you.

Same concept applies if you truly want a relationship with the Lord that is ongoing, sustained and the most powerful and power-filled love you will ever experience. Make time to talk to HIM throughout the day. It doesn’t have to be poetic, or filled with pontification like the Pharisees. HE just wants you to use your words to express your heart. HE will listen like nobody has ever heard you before. When your heart is broken? Only HE can truly understand your pain. If you are fearful? HE will speak peace. If you are between a rock and a hard place? HE will be your Rock. Jesus can do for you what you need. Even when you cannot speak the words, HE and only HE will hear your heart. That is prayer. Prayer is about confessing everything, sharing everything, and loving HIM. Prayer is when your heart is so full of worship and thanksgiving, all you can do is cry. Prayer is about communication with HIM in whatever form it comes. Talking, sharing, expressing.

When we make prayer out to be some mystical experience we make folks shy away from spending time with their First Love. It is not an out-of-reach thang. It is no different that chatting with someone on fb, sharing a blog, or texting 20 times a day. It is just that simple! Communication and conversation.

Spending time in the Word allows you to know about this One with whom you will desire an all-consuming relationship. You will learn the basics about everything HE created. You will see how HE got folks through tough times. You will experience HIS eternal love and desire for you by spending time in HIS Word. It will foster an appetite for more of HIM. Creating the devotion in you for HIM in the same way HE is devoted to you!

The benefits are this relationship are endless. But that one branch of it that means the most to me right now? Over time and life-experience, you have a constant companion who has remained faithful, no matter what. You learn that HE is Dependable. Forever. Unchanging. Loving. Comforting. Trustworthy. When you KNOW HIM, you know that HE is within you in the midst of everything. When a situation feels impossible? HE is the Possible! When you are up against a wall? HE is the Door. When you can’t see your way out? HE is the Light. When you crash and burn? HE is your First Responder. When your heart breaks? HE is Comfort. When your body is wrecked with pain? HE is the Balm. When you come to the end of days? HE is Happily Ever After!

This Love Connection will bring you everything your heart longs to feel and experience. This relationship will keep you content in whatever station of life you are currently living. This relationship will fulfill your entire life, if you want. HE will promulgate HIS love for you but will never force you to reciprocate. HE longs for you but will never insist. HE wants your time and affection but will wait patiently. Stop wasting time and go for HIM!

HE is your Happily Ever After!

 

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Saturday, February 9, 2019~Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

It seems as though everything is shifting and changing so quickly, at least it feel that way to me. This morning, I am feeling thankful for some really random things that not so long, kinda irritated me. The main thing on today is how easily and peacefully my hubby falls and stays in a deep sleep.

In the early years of our marriage it irked the fire out of me. I still had a lot of buried hostilities. He would just be lights out, ni-night, and was finished with the day! I would fidget and fuss and on occasion accidentally,  NUDGE him. I’ve confessed. God is faithful. I’m forgiven. Moving on now, folks.

This man could sleep with spotlights flooding the room. He can just as easily sleep in strange motel rooms. I think if we were in the woods, in a tent with an open container of salmon, and we knew there were grizzlies on the way, he would take a nap with instructions to “Wake me when they get here.” Okay, maybe a skosh of this~mama~papa~drama there, but only a skosh. This kind of drop~off to dreamland used to tick me off. I wanted him to be as restless as I was at night.

His desk always has all manner of electronics on it and every single one of them has some sort of colored light on the outside even when the item is off and closed. His desk was always in an area of our bedroom. For me, it was like trying to catch a few winks on an airport landing strip in the middle of the night. We would try to huddle them all together and cover them, so I could sleep. Sensitive soul, yes?

He knows I’m a bit oriented towards the insomniac and has always tried to make sure I was settled in perfect comfort before retiring for the night. He puts my favorite socks on my feet, covers me with the softest fur blanket, turns the fan just so to help me breathe, makes sure there is something in a cup by my bed and then after kissing me good~night and telling me he loves me, he asks if I’m ready for the light to be turned off. Sometimes, no! I hesitate. I don’t want the day to end. I ask for another kiss. But mostly yes, because I know he is exhausted and needs his rest.

One of the things that has completely changed ~ While he could still sleep through enemy fire, I am suddenly and terrifyingly afraid of the dark. A few nights ago, we spent some time in scripture, listened to some songs and then prepared to turn in for the night. We went through our nightly routine to lights off. Once the light was off, I was instantly afraid. “NO! Please, turn on the light!” He responded immediately, turned the light back on and asked what was wrong. I told him I did not know, but please, it can’t be dark in here.

He thoughtfully turned on some of my flickering candles and that was enough. Just a soft glow, but I was able to feel peace again. It’s now a new part of our nightly ritual. And I am so grateful that even though I have once again changed things up on him, he can lay his head to rest at night and awaken refreshed to handle whatever God sees fit to allow on our plates the next day. A man who can roll with the punches and changes of life, and still sleep in peace to fight another day? Priceless!

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of my husband! And I thank you for the sweet rest you give him every night.

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Monday ~ February 4, 2019: Stranded on an Island

I have promised to keep this real and write from my heart. I know many may not be able to read this and that’s okay. Please, feel free to walk on by. I do not want anyone to feel obligated. I give you my word I will not be offended. It is a hard place to be imprisoned. I am doing this for anyone who might be in a similar position and if it helps them feel less alone, less isolated, then this journey has a purpose. I desperately need to know there is a purpose, even if I cannot know what it is at this point in time. So here we go ~

If you were to be stranded on an island, with only one thing, what would you want the one thing to be? I have heard this question asked many times and heard myriad answers; my Bible, my Everything Pan, a First Aid kit, a mirror, a hair dryer, tent, blanket, a My Pillow, and the list goes on. I have always wondered what my answer would be if asked. I never really considered an answer until recently.

My sister asked me if I had a bucket list or if I was going to make one. A Bucket List, in theory, is a list of all the things you want to do before you kick the bucket. My Bucket List would be the things I want to do before I forget how to do them, or before I kick the proverbial bucket, whichever comes first. When I was diagnosed with cancer, there was only one thing I really wanted to do to fulfill a life-long dream and I was blessed to be able to check it off my one-item list. I never added or even thought about one more thing or several things I would want to do in my life. I am not dream~oriented. I am not purpose~driven, that I know of anyway.

Jesus, Family, Home. Me in a nutshell. So if I were to attempt a one more thing in life, what on earth would it be? It would certainly have to do with water. I love the ocean. Really, any body of water as long as it has a beautiful beach. We went to the lake several times throughout the summer when our children were young. My sister and I would load up the van with kids, food, water toys and rafts and head out early in the morning and spend the entire day on the beach. Sometimes, our hubbies took the day off and went along with us. When we moved out here close to the lake, we started taking the kids and grands and spending the day on the beach until it became too much work for me to make it to the water’s edge. If I couldn’t even get far enough to put my feet in the water and feel the breeze coming off the lake, I didn’t see the point. I encourage them to go and take the babies and send me pics, but it’s just not going to be the same. Maybe, I’ll go this year, sit up in the shade and keep binoculars in hand. Maybe….

We have taken several trips down to the Gulf. Sometimes just one or two nights, eat dinner in an ocean-front restaurant on the open deck, stay in a motel with a view so I can say good night and good morning to the waves. I am continually fascinated by the fact that the ocean is stayed by God’s Word and HIS hands. It laps around my feet and no further without HIS permission. The awe and the power of it all beckons me to return.

For our 40th Anniversary, my husband and I went to an Island in North Carolina. It was just a stone’s throw from the coast but we were surrounded by water. It was beautiful and peaceful and perfect. My sister and brother-in-law were on a driving vacation across the southern states and they met us there for a few days on their way home. My best friend and her husband came in for a couple of days and it was just a perfect interlude.

A few days ago, I was reminded of that trip. First Class all the way, sports car rental, our own home on the beach, friends and family, chilly evenings wrapped up in a blanket sitting on the enclosed porch watching the moon dancing on the tide, and early mornings watching the image of a flickering fire burst over the horizon as the sun slowly came up over the water. The thing is, I cannot recall those moments from my own memories with very much clarity anymore. I now remember it from looking at pictures and knowing I was there.

On a too frequent basis, things are slipping from me. I have redundant reminders and alarms set in order to remember certain things throughout the day. I take copious notes to help me remember things I feel are important. Then, I find a paper with my handwriting and have no idea why I wrote what I wrote. It is a scary place. Sometimes I feel completely alone. No one can possibly understand. No one gets the fear, the sadness, the loss. My husband just ordered a book by Stormie Omartian for me. I have a few of her books on my bookshelf and he thought I would like to read ‘The Power of Praying through Fear‘. I pick it up repeatedly and read but cannot seem to retain the power I know are in those words.

Alone. On an Island. I think that’s my one more thing. And I’m there. Alone on an island with palpable fear. I pray throughout the day and the fear eases but it roars back in during the night like stormy waves slapping at the stilts of this fragile house I live in these days. I worry about things I have never worried about in my life. I worry about handling any money. My doctor told me to relinquish any and all financial control as that is one of the biggest problems early on and I have seen it happen. I don’t remember what I did exactly, but I remember messing something up and trying to fix it only to make it worse. It was my own budget but it was frightening, because the recall of how to do it right is gone.

Conversations I have had in the last few weeks are slipping away. I can remember bits of convos but I can’t put the pieces of how that statement came about or why that person said the one thing I remember. Always writing. Notes I cannot understand. The essence of me is here. I know who I am. I know who everyone I love is and how they are connected to me. I know where I live. My town. My state. I remember where I was born. Where I was married. Where my children were born. But I don’t know why or when I put radishes in the knife drawer. Or why my phone was in the guest bath. I don’t know why there is trash stuffed in the washer, but pretty sure I put it there. I don’t know where I put my favorite shirt or even what color it is anymore, just that I can’t find it. Little illusive things. Frustrating things. I don’t understand where these things go and why I can’t get to them. And that makes me afraid.

Afraid to engage in conversation. Afraid of what I might forget that is vital to me or someone I love. Afraid I will misplace something important that will never be recovered. Afraid to walk outside. Afraid to stay inside. Afraid to take my medicine in case I’m taking the wrong kind at the right time. Afraid I’ll forget appointments that must be kept. Afraid to remember anything for fear of forgetting everything. More notes. More writing. More fear. And the cycle of fear and stress makes it so much worse. This I know, yet I cannot get perspective.

I need an interlude where I can just be me again. My short term memories are slipping away. I feel it. I feel the encroachment of more slippage and I know that I cannot stop it, but I cannot process the reality of it all either. The song by Jim Brickman ‘Hear Me‘ sings simply~

“Hear me, hear my words unspoken. Restore my faith in hoping.
Hear me, I am feeling broken. I am broken open.
Take this life, turn it into something. I’m afraid it’s just wasting time.
Turn this life the sun has ripened, grow it slowly on the vine.”

Then the cycle begins again. How long before I forget the words to that song? To other songs? The song I sang to my husband on our wedding day? My favorite hymns? The lullabies I sang to my babies. I love songs. I love words. Yet I forget how to spell them. I have to edit and edit and edit everything. I forget how sentences go together and obsess going back over them and changing everything.

But more than anything? Memories. Those precious bits of forever that link us to the past, keep us in our present and urge us to plan for a future. I fear more and more of those slipping from my mind. So today, if I were to be stranded on an island, and I think I just may be, what one thing do I want with me? Certainly not the fear! The one thing I want is all of my precious memories. The ones that have been lost through the natural process of time and the ones Alzheimer’s is snatching from me. I want them all back. I want to sit and go through them one at a time. I want to touch, smell, taste, hear, experience them all. I do not want to go back in time or have any do-overs. I’ve had a good life. God has been good to me. But I want to go through all my memories, alone, on this Island….

Moment to moment, life is fleeting. If you do not know the Lord, I pray HE will place folks on your path that can help guide you into a knowledge of Christ. If you have walked with HIM and slipped into a place of withdrawal from HIS presence, return to your First Love. And if you are in a great place with the Lord, and you are going through a frustrating time in your life, remember this: You will get through this phase. I don’t know how long you may be in it, or how deep it might get, but I know HE will not let you sink. HE will always hold you up with HIS hand. And even if you are in a place like me where you feel completely alone and lost, HE is still right there. Run into HIS arms as many times as necessary throughout the days and nights. The Lord’s arms are always wide open and HIS love for you is unending.

For today, that is enough to get me through another day.

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Saturday ~ February 2, 2019: One Day at a Time

I am currently in the moderate phase of Early-Onset Alzheimer’s. I have been forgetting many things like meds, appointments, events, and anything with numbers pretty much feels like it’s fried my brain. I am a weeper. I cry when I’m happy. I cry when I’m surprised. I cry at Christmas. I cry over cards and gifts. I cry when I’m sad and the tears are unabated at this point. I am reminded that joy comes in the morning, so I know all these tears are just a one-night stand and this too shall pass.

I cannot help but think, sometimes to the point of dwelling, on two simple facts. My long-term memory is still in tact. My short-term is quite compromised. Long-term. Short-term. Is there a timeline I can set out so I know what to expect and when? Is long-term ten years or more? Twenty? Thirty? Five? Two? And how short is short-term? I forget things that happened two weeks ago and convos I had a week ago have gaps in them.

I have become a total fanatic about taking notes and we have set reminders on Alexa so my husband gets the reminders on his phone, too, and can check to see if I remembered something important. We have back-up reminders and alarms on my phone and watch. I have pages of notes on my phone to refer to daily to help me remember. I go through my photos on my phone and on fb daily.

The things most precious to me are simple things. These simple things are the memories I am desperate to hold on to with both hands, feet, arms and teeth, if need be. Ferociously trying to keep them from slipping away. When my hubby walks in the door from work and I see that look of peace come over his face. His phone call at lunch just to say he loves me. His precious kisses. The quirk of his eyebrow when I say something off the wall. How he smiles when our children or grandchildren walk into our home. The way he tilts his head when he touches my hand. How easily and peacefully he lays his head to rest at night.

My oldest son’s smile. That look he gets when someone says something he’s pretty sure is not right. His happiness when he’s with family. The way he laughs and enjoys some back-in-the-day stories. The flashing of his dimples when he wants something from his Ma. How he tugs at his shirt hem or readjusts his sleeves when he’s sharing something with me, almost as though he wants to look his best in that moment. The way he plays it close to the vest.

My youngest son’s way of caring for me. His tenderness. His righteous indignation. That smile melts my heart. The way he always comes for a kiss on the cheek before he leaves. The generous spirit that always asks for a list of things I would like done that I can no longer complete. How he runs his hand back through his hair. His love for Mexican food and trail running. His respect and honor for us.

My baby girl’s requests for Girl’s Day Out with her Mama. Her smile and the way she throws her head back and laughs with abandon. How hard she works for her family’s future. How she reassures me and keeps me focused. How she uses her dimples to persuade me to her way of thinking. Her love of Sleeping Beauty Turquoise jewelry. The way she shares her babies with me.

My husband keeps reminding me that we are going to take things one day at a time, one step at a time. A few scriptures come to mind:

“This is the day which the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

“Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.” Psalm 37:23

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5,6

Let me focus on this day and not what is to come. I will keep the Lord’s Word ever before my eyes and hidden in my heart. Thanking God for today!

 

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Pieces of Me ~ Part II: Welcome To The Club

Most folks would like to hear those words of “Welcome” at some point in their life. Several years ago, there was always some kind of club or group I could never seem to get my foot through the door to become a “member”. When I ached to join and suffered rejection, I pretended I didn’t really care about being in the midst of the fun after all.

Youngsters formed Clubs in the neighborhood for “Friends Only”. You were allowed entrance only by invitation and only if the invite was issued by a founding member. I recall one group just around the corner from our home which met in an actual tree~house. I thought it was the coolest club ever and I would walk slowly down the street at meeting time, in hopes that someone would see me casually strolling by and invite me into the “Club”. I wished fervently to know what they talked about in there. I was dying to know what was in the bowl of goodies his mother carried out every afternoon and what flavored drink might be in that metal pitcher. They noticed me all right. But they just pointed, laughed and climbed the ladder to the magical palace in the tree. And silly me kept walking by every afternoon, thinking this would be the day they chose me.

One afternoon, one of the cool girls came running from the tree~house just as I was strolling by. I gave her a big grin of excitement and my heart beat out a sweet, fast rhythm. She stepped up in front of me and pointed her finger in my face. “Karla, you are not allowed on our street anymore. So stop!” I responded, “This was the last day I was walking over here anyway!” and ran all the way home in tears. I shut myself in my bedroom and listed all the reasons I didn’t want to be a member of their stupid club and then cried some more.

I was never one of the cool kids. I was not athletic, or bubbly, or super smart. Never fit in with any clique or group of kids. I stood on the sidelines of my own childhood. The only “friend” I had as an adolescent was one girl who enjoyed pummeling me. I was her practice dummy in case she ever got into a fight at school. I didn’t know how to fight back and knew if I did, I would get in more trouble at home, so I withstood the occasional beat-down. She was bigger and stronger and could grab me by my ponytail and swing me around in circles until I hit the ground. She would sit on me and punch me. I never fought back, although I wanted to in the worst way.

I was and still am quite average. I was never encouraged to excel at anything. So I made it through tenth grade by the skin of my teeth. I went back later for my GED and took some college courses to better my chances in the workforce.

I don’t excel, I don’t initiate, I don’t engage. I sit back, observe, and learn. I am not a naturally gifted people-person. I don’t seek others out. I am content to watch. I am content to enjoy life from the sidelines.

But as a parent, I encouraged my children to find their “thing” and be the best they could be at whatever it was they found to be their niche. Whatever they tried their hand at, I was always in there telling them to “go for it!” But I tried to never steer them in one direction. Each of them has found a place of contentment, fulfillment and that fills my heart with joy. Two of my children have children and each of them is unique and owns their own special piece of my heart.

I am fulfilled. I am content. Life has not always been kind or behaved as I might have imagined, but as an adult, my heart has always been full and that is more than enough. I have found my place in God’s Club. HE welcomed me with open arms and I will not turn away from HIM or HIS presence. I am a life-time member of “I can do all things through Christ!” I have an amazing husband with whom I share my heart. He completes me in a way I never dreamed was possible and our beloved children and grandchildren round out the picture of “Home”. The sidelines have been perfect for me.

There are many opinions on faith and what God does or does not need to do for us. There is the Name it and Claim it camp that believes whatever you claim in Jesus’ name is yours. The Disclaim it and Blame it folks think if you refuse to accept it and put the blame squarely wherever it belongs, it cannot effect you. Personally, my faith provokes me to APB the situation. Acknowledge. Pray. Believe.

I prayed for a doctor who was Godly, wise, and kind. God provided abundantly. So when he does the tests and tells me what is going on, well, I’m going to trust him. I am going to thank God for the incredible minds HE gave these scientists! However, God still has the final say in my life over everything! So, I can acknowledge the diagnosis, pray to my Heavenly Father who has all things in HIS hands, and believe that HIS perfect will is unfolding in my life. If HE chooses to heal me instantly, Hallelujah!  If HE chooses to heal me as I walk through it, Hallelujah! And if not either of those? Hallelujah! anyhow!

God is still and always will be in control. Nothing touches my life but what HE has said, “You can do this with MY strength. I will never leave you nor forsake you. I trust you to lean into ME and when the going gets tough, rest in MY everlasting presence!” Welcome to the Club. The membership guidelines are clearly stated in the Word of God. Many have been called to join, but few are actually chosen. Thank God, I’m in the club of a lifetime whose membership carries you through eternity!

I am also a member of another club. In the Acknowledgement phase, I have Early-Onset Alzheimer’s. In the Praying phase, prayer never ceases. And the Believe? Oh, yes, I believe! APB!

This blog will now be dedicated to this journey as we walk it out. I will be sharing insights from my husband and children through the process. I covet your prayers for my family. The sorrow has been abundant and it is a tremendously heart-breaking situation for them. They are my loves and my life so please keep them covered.

If you are not a member of the God Club, I invite you to pick up your Bible and allow HIM to lead you into all truth. When the vicissitudes of life are rocking you to your core, HE will be the steady hand you have always sought. When you grieve, HE will send comfort. When you are hurting, HE will hold you. HE will place the perfect people on your path to be a source of strength and guidance. HE will see to it that you are fulfilled and content and ready when HE returns for HIS people! Welcome to the Club!

I love you but Jesus loves more!

 

 

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THY Words….

“Your word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” ~Psalm 119:105

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” ~Isaiah 41:10

“You restored me to health and let me live. Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.” ~Isaiah 38:17,17

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 4:19

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” ~Revelation 21:4

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” ~Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

“LORD, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress.” ~Isaiah 33:2

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” ~John 14:27

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ~Matthew 11:28-30

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” ~Isaiah 40:29

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” ~Psalm 23

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” ~Psalm 73:26

“Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.” ~Jeremiah 15:16

Go deep into the Word of God. HIS Word will sustain you!

I love you but Jesus loves you more!!

 

 

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Performance vs Grace

I have been attempting to write this blog for several weeks. I would lose my thoughts and not be able to understand my scribbled notes. Last night, Tim and I were watching one of his childhood friends preaching on youtube. As I thought about that message this morning, God gave me the title and the wrap for this blog. I pray it blesses you and helps you along your journey.

As I child, I was given a manual of sorts that listed all the things I could do and could not do “according to scripture”. I believed if I kept these man-made rules, I would dodge hell. That was the goal; to not go to hell. It was the lake of fire, the place where you would burn eternally. While that part may very well be true, my goal was not appropriate. On the list of “Do’s” was to repent, be baptized in Jesus’ name, be filled with the Holy Ghost and then never do the “Don’t’s”. I repented and was baptized in Jesus’ name, received the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues and believed I was never going to hell. End of story.

Only, this: That was never the story. Yes, fulfilling scripture is vitally important. Having been filled with the Holy Spirit should have filled me with joy and comfort but I was never taught any other purpose other than evading hell. Last night, I had a convo with my husband about the Holy Spirit bringing about conviction. I am 62 years old and still seeking answers through scripture, prayer and counsel. When we stop growing and stretching, we begin dying. Never stop reaching for more of God.

Here’s the thang! When we create manuals for Christians for what they can and can’t do we limit God’s power in their lives. Our only job is to preach and teach the Word of God and HE will do the rest. This has been HIS will and plan for all of us all along. Why? Because we are human. HE is God!

We give our children rules. We are trying to raise them to be productive members in society so we begin teaching them social norms while they are still quite young. We begin with “No.” which evolves to “NO!” and then evolves into the “why’s” and “why not’s” when age appropriate. They are the sons and daughters God gave to us and HE entrusts us to guide and discipline them along the way. We set ground~rules and repercussions. If you do this, then this will happen. Because we are human our efforts are based in human intelligence. We reward them when they do well. Because we are human and our efforts reflect our humanity. We count on performance by our children. They must perform within the guidelines we set down for them.

We use punishment or repercussions to reinforce the rhetoric. If you do this? Then we do this! We learn at a very early age that when we do something ‘bad’ our parents are disappointed and that provokes disappointment within us. We basically set out the rules and our children abide by them in order to please us.

We are God’s sons and daughters. He left the Holy Spirit with us to comfort and guide us until we are reunited with HIM in Glory. But do we really let God, in HIS Spirit form, complete HIS purpose? Nope. Not even close.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” I Peter 5:8. How does he do this? First, through temptation. In Matthew 4:1-11 we read the story of how the devil even tried to tempt Jesus. Jesus was perfect and satan could not get to HIM through temptation. But he can get to us. The devil tempts us and when we succumb, he accuses us. (Revelation 12:10) When we believe his accusations of failure, we are filled with despair and next? We depart. We are human and satan uses human tactics, condemnation, against us. We are susceptible to them because we have been raised in humanity.

When I was brought up with a list of rules, I was constantly feeling condemned. I could not find a place of peace for all the “bad” things I constantly did, which kept me in constant fear of hell. But GRACE! When my husband and I were talking about the operation of the Holy Ghost in our lives, he mentioned that we accept the difference between conviction and “rules” based on faith.

If you have been trained in fear, you cannot find a way to behave in love. The fear, the condemnation overrides everything else. We had to throw out the rule book. We had to accept Grace as God’s continual. The gift that keeps on giving. As a child, I believed, once I was saved, I could never sin again. If I did I had to do penance before I could ever approach God again. But my Bible tell me “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

Say what? BOLDY, find GRACE when in need! When do we need grace the most? When the devil has condemned us for sinning yet again. Oh yes, I am a sinner saved by grace. I will be a sinner, saved by grace until the moment I am perfected in Heaven. I struggle daily. I sin a lot! My thoughts, my mouth, my actions all fall short of HIS glory! I need HIS Grace daily, sometimes, by the minute. But HE has never given me a list. Every time I fall short, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9

God does not operate through lists. HE left us the Holy Spirit instead. HE guides us through Grace. Through Love. Through Forgiveness. None of which come with an expiration or a maximum usage. HE is Omniscient, all-knowing.  HE is Omnipotent, all-powerful. Omnipresent, always here. HE knows everything before we confess, HE has the power to forgive completely, and HE will do so every time.

Needless to say, we tossed out the “manual” years ago. We dug deep into the Word of God and found what we longed for all along. Grace! Grace keeps your heart in line with God’s desires for you because HE IS GRACE! HE will keep you! HE will guide you into all truth! HE will convict you when you go awry. And HE will forgive and restore you!

Condemnation and conviction are displayed in Acts the second chapter. Peter, a man who failed many times, became the very man God used to establish the church. He stood up on the day of Pentecost and told the Jews of Jerusalem, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Acts 2:37. Peter’s words condemned them. They knew in that moment what they had done. I can see them all hanging their heads.

But then? “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Acts 2:37

You see, condemnation shows you the problem. But conviction, reveals the answer. The devil is all about causing problems. Jesus is the Answer!!

“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Acts 2:38, 39

Performance cannot be sustained. We cannot measure up. We use the evasion of hell to keep us in line. Condemnation will not keep us from hell, but can separate us from HIS Love, if the devil succeeds.

There is an old song: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in HIS wonderful face. And the things of this world will grow strangely dim, In the light of HIS Glory and Grace!”

I leave you with this: If you remember anything I have ever shared? Please remember this….

Set your Spiritual compass for a new Direction; Jesus and Heaven!

God’s Grace Never Fails And Never Ends.

I love you but Jesus loves you more!

 

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