5.18.2015

Prisoner...But Free


As a prisoner
All rights as a citizen 
No longer apply

As a prisoner
Any dreams for the future
No longer matter

As a prisoner
All cravings and addictions
Cannot be indulged

As a prisoner
Favorite activities
May not be enjoyed

As a prisoner
Choices and variety
No longer exist

I know prisoners
Who today have hope in Christ
Chains of sin broken

I know prisoners
Whose guilt, remorse, and regret
No longer bind them

I know prisoners
Whose faith has cleared their record
Truth has set them free

I know prisoners
Blameless, righteous, forgiven
No longer guilty


I just spent two days alongside men who have committed gruesome crimes. They have been stripped of every right and privilege they had as a citizen. Yet, they are more free than many who are not confined to prison, because they have experienced the forgiveness and healing that comes through Jesus Christ. They have hope that even though their lives on earth will be spent inside a maximum security prison, it is not their end. They have joy in knowing that they can have (and have had) an impact on the "outside" world through what they're learning and pursuing inside prison walls. They are speaking Truth into their children's lives, stopping the generational cycle of crime one child at a time. They are sharing the hope they have with other prisoners whose lives are being changed. For two days, I shared tears of joy and pain with my brothers. For one day, I watched men be dads, uncles, grandpas to the children they love. For life, I will be forever changed.



5.05.2015

When Celebrations Become Painful Reminders

One year ago, Mother was diagnosed with cancer. Today, she is cancer-free!
People love to celebrate wonderful occasions...birthdays, half-birthdays, spiritual birthdays, adoption days, pet birthdays, dating anniversaries, wedding anniversaries, work anniversaries, addiction recovery milestones, holidays, and more! It is a worthy cause to rejoice in the momentous events in our lives. This morning, I enjoyed using Face Time to sing "Happy Birthday" to my now 9-year-old nephew! I am rejoicing that he was born. What an amazing kid!
Another anniversary comes up this week, though. The 7th anniversary of losing my almost fiance in a car accident. What makes it even more difficult is that Mother's Day falls around this anniversary. every. time. While my grief was great and there are still waves that come up out of nowhere, I can't imagine it being anything close to what his sweet mother feels every day, and especially on Mother's Day.
It is an amazing thing to celebrate mothers. I have the best mother in the whole world! One day of honoring her doesn't even begin to adequately celebrate all that she is. There aren't enough Hallmark (R) cards to express in words what she has been to me. On Mother's Day, I will be singing her praises! But my mother has a mother, too. Her sweet Mother Dear went to Heaven in 1999. On Mother's Day, my mother will remember wonderful things about my grandma, but she will also miss her a little more than on other days throughout the year.
Some were not as fortunate as I to have a mother who loved me and cheered me on to do good things. They will hurt this weekend. Some never resolved relationship conflicts with their mothers before laying them to rest. They will grieve on Sunday. Some never knew their mothers and will be reminded that all was not well when they were born. Eyes will blur as they view picture after beautiful picture on social media sites, if they can even bear to look on Sunday. Some have desired children for years, and Sunday will remind them that they are still unable to stand alongside the other mothers in the church. Some have lost children and will never hear the wonderful words "Mommy, I love you," again. Sunday will be unbearable. Some mothers have watched children make painful, hurtful choices. On Sunday, their tears will fall.
If I could stop all of the annual reminders of everyone's grief and sorrow, I would.
But, I can't.
So, I will be praying for those who are hurting through this weekend. They will not be far from my mind. I will weep with those who are weeping.
But I will also take the opportunity to rejoice with those who are rejoicing, celebrating the mom who after years of trying, finally gets to be called, "Mommy!" I'll be jumping for joy with the mother whose child has returned to the Lord. I will be praising the Lord for the amazing moms that I know who are using their God-given gifts and abilities to nurture their children in knowledge of Him! I will be thanking God for the women in my life who have been spiritual moms. I will call my mother with sheer gratitude that God healed her from cancer and that she is still just a phone call and a few hours' drive away. I will call my grandmother and remind her once again that she is responsible for all this mess! I am so thankful for mothers. They are worthy to be celebrated!
Do I fear the grief that one day Mother's Day will hold painful reminders? Sure. But while the celebration is sweet, I will not withhold my joy.
Ecclesiastes 3:4
There is a time to weep.
And there’s a time to laugh.
There is a time to be sad.
And there’s a time to dance.
While there is rejoicing to be done, may we not withhold our celebration, for there will be plenty of time to grieve in days to come.

4.20.2015

Weeping in the Sowing

I planted some seeds about 15 years ago, seeds of encouragement and love in the life of a young girl that so desperately needed affirmation and attention. After a couple of years, life's paths took us in different directions and I lost touch. When we reconnected a few years later, it was evident that there had not been much watering and nurturing of this tender plant. She'd been tattered by life's storms and the disease of sin had left some pretty significant scars.
It's amazing how blooms are still possible in what seem the most dire of circumstances. She began a journey of transplanting and regrowth. It was a hard journey, one full of ups and downs, good choices and bad choices. Then she had a beautiful baby boy. I saw growth like never before. She began holding jobs for more than just a few months, making better choices about the people she would spend time with, and making a greater effort to surround herself with a community of believers.
But the weeds had never been removed. They have been so entangling for so long that she simply
cannot recognize them as weeds. The weeds have some attractive blooms in the form of happiness, security, escape, and the affirmation and attention she has desired since I've known her. Plucked from the ground and placed in a decorative vase, the arrangement is quite lovely. A man that dotes on her, the ability to have and do things financially, a fresh start in a new location far from the life in which she grew up, opportunities for her son. It's as beautiful as the flowers on my desk this morning.
But we all know what happens to even the most beautiful of cut flower arrangements. Even if we add the plant food for a week, the flowers will eventually wither and die.
Oh, if only we could be satisfied with the arrangement in which God has planted us. He is the source of our nourishment, health, and stability. We see the arrangements that are pulled together for others, the displays of color that bring joy and satisfaction...temporarily, and we want that. But we fail to realize that the most fulfilling place to be is rooted in the truth, whether we like it or not.
While I look at the areas of my own life where I've allowed the weeds of deceit to cause discontentment, I'm also grieving for my sweet friend, praying and waiting for the rejoicing that will come when she surrenders to God's best for her life.

Psalm 126:6
He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.

3.23.2015

Forgiven Forever

Before you committed your first sin
Sins were forgiven forever.
Before you confessed your sinful nature
Sins were forgiven forever.
Before you continued to struggle with sin in the flesh
Sins were forgiven forever.
You are a child of God, a perfected saint, because
Sins were forgiven forever.
You have a new covenant written on your heart, because
Sins were forgiven forever.
No offering or sacrifice is needed, because
Sins were forgiven forever.
Your sins are remembered no more, because
Sins were forgiven forever.
Two thousand years ago
Sins were forgiven forever.


Hebrews 10:11-18
And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before,  “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.

1.19.2015

New



Name - from sinner to saint
Eternity - from death to life
Walk - from flesh to Spirit



From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  2 Corinthians 5:16-21

11.03.2014

Summertime in My Heart

“To everything there is a season…”
…except, of course, for flip-flops. I’m pretty sure even Solomon would have agreed. I mean, didn’t he wear sandals year-round?
It’s so hard to say goodbye to summer…some years harder than others. It’s not that I don’t love other seasons. I love the Fall colors, crisp air, pumpkins, and crunchy leaves. I even love a good Winter snow…if I don’t have to drive in it or shovel it.
But, I miss the sun shining in the mornings urging me to start the day with a smile.
So how do I get through the shorter, darker days? 
I remind myself that I have been given the Son…eternal, bright, and glorious.
Every day the enemy tempts me to forget that I am a completely new creation. He lies about my identity, my worth, and my purpose. He wants to keep me in the dark about the power that I now possess in Christ.
My flesh is used to old habits and sin patterns that confuse and conflict with my spirit. I often place myself back in the chains that have already been broken, and I behave as though I believe the lies of the enemy.
So, I must surround myself with truth. Every day I review what Christ did for me and in me. I read parts of Hebrews and Romans to refresh my memory about my new life, status, and position. I rehearse 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 to dispel any notion that I’m still part sinner rather than fully saint.
Truth melts the cold that threatens to defeat and discourage, and just like the unknown hymn writer says:
               It is summertime in my heart.
               It is summertime in my heart.
               Since Jesus saved me, new life He gave me.
               Even in wintertime it’s summer in my heart.
So, I may be packing up most of the flip-flops (keepin’ a few out just in case), and replacing them with boots, but nothing can replace the summertime that Christ has brought to my heart!

9.16.2014

Meditate...Yoga Style

I know there are some in my circles that would not approve of even trying Yoga. Honestly, I've not actually researched why or why not to do it, but I had heard some warnings against "emptying my mind."
Regardless, I went along with someone who'd benefited from the stretching and thought I'd just give it a try. It was very relaxing and felt so good to stretch and release some tension. I was even sore the next day, which means there really is some physical benefit. Due to the warnings, I was prepared for the end of the class when the instructor did, in fact, lead through a process of "emptying the mind." I didn't follow her instructions, well not completely anyway. I did choose to stop thinking about the issues I'd been trying to resolve all day and began secretly rehearsing every Scripture passage that came to mind. While the stretching was beneficial and stress was relieved, I believe it was the focus on God's Word that ultimately left me feeling refreshed and energized for the next task of the day.
Recently, I was challenged again to "...meditate day and night...(Psalm 1:2)" on a particular passage of Scripture. I forced myself to read it over and over, say it out loud, quote it without looking, and as any good teacher would...add some motions! The verses have become precious to me and have come to mind even when I'm not purposing to think about them. They have proven to be "...profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the [wo]man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16)."
I believe that Scripture teaches us to fill our minds with "...whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, ...excellence, ...anything worthy of praise...(Phil. 4:8)." So, whether or not I continue to stretch in various poses that improve posture and balance, I will continue to fill my mind with Scripture while emptying it of all other thoughts tempting to consume me. I will choose to meditate day and night on His Word, lifting my hands in praise, bowing to the Divine who lives within me. Namaste.