When Faith Encounters Forgiveness and Love

You have met them at some point in your life. We all have. You have met a person that being in the same room with them sets your teeth on edge. The first word that passes their lips or even their demeanor has your number.  It is someone who you try desperately to like, but it is hard. In life there is always going to be ones with who we struggle to get along. Does that mean we stop trying? Certainly not. So where do we go from there? During these times, I find myself in the need of reflection and praying. Most times I will come to a couple of conclusions.

“Is the reason I struggle to get along something they have done to me or someone I care about?” If the answer is yes, the thought process follows. “Why am I holding on to this anger or hurt or frustration?” Often the reason is “I have to look after me and mine!” “They hurt me so I will hurt them by being angry with them, or finding a way to zing them back so they will feel bad about what they have done.” So if our thoughts take us to this place, unforgiveness is reigning in our heart. Our unforgiveness is coming between us and another person. The disciples were struggling with this too. In Matthew 18:21-22 we read, “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” I know the next step in the process. “You have no idea what they have done to me.” You would be correct in that, I don’t know. In these verses Jesus did not give a stipulation on the circumstances. He said to just keep forgiving. Is this an easy task? No way. IT IS A HARD THING, BUT IT IS A NECESSARY THING. It involves getting out of our own way and being willing to give up our right to be offended. Pride often will well up in us and we can’t let go. Pride can be quick sand on the road to forgiveness. It can bog us down and hinder us from doing what we ought to do. I can often bog us down for months, even years. We want to be free of our hurt. The only way to turn it over to God is through the avenue of forgiveness. This person may have hurt you over and over. We can’t be waiting for offense #491 then put the hammer down on them. The principle is to keep forgiving over and over. I have been in such a place so I am not speaking of something that has not been a hard, learned lesson. I know this is a tough subject, but it has been on my heart. When I see others struggling to forgive, I know if the freedom that is waiting on those who are willing to surrender their will to Father God in the area of forgiveness.

The other conclusion I come to when struggling to get along with others is “If they have not done anything to me, what is my hold up? Am I failing to love them as God loves them?” “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” (1 John 4:11) God tells us to love as He does. When God’s love is flowing through me it is extended to others. Only my unwillingness can stop that flow of love. In both of these conclusions, the power to get along with others begins and ends with us. You may find at some point you try to follow these things and the other person does not want to be right with you. It happens. You can’t control what others feel about you. But you can continue to forgive and you can continue to love because it is what God requires of you. When you know you have done your best and Christ is pleased with your effort there is a freedom and a peace that is beyond understanding. Then you can let them go continuing to pray for them and reconciliation to come one day.

The walk of faith was never said to be an easy one filled with only sunshine and roses. There are trials and testing to endure. We can be confident in knowing that we have a God who walks with us in the way and will help us through the hard times. We may struggle along the way to get along with others. Let God help you determine your part in the process of what you need to do to be right with Him.

To Much of a Good Thing…

This dog of mine seems to know how to push my buttons. Most of the time she is a good dog. She minds pretty well. She loves big. She tends toward hardheadedness. Thus, this morning is my beef with her. Annie, the dog, is my rescue dog. She came to our family and fit right in. As she is currently the only dog in our household, so she is very spoiled (my fault, I know). Not long after she came on board, she developed parvo which affected her digestive system. She came very close to dying, but with some quick vet meds and waiting it out she did recover. The illness did leave behind a very sensitive stomach. I have to be very careful that she doesn’t over eat because it will make her sick every time. Yesterday, she got into a new bag of dog food. It went everywhere while I made an effort to get most of the excess up it was more than she usually has access too. I even told her don’t overeat. This morning I woke up to the smell and sounds of a dog tossing her cookies. Yuk! We have hardwood floors in our home. However, her favorite place to do the aforementioned is on the end of the long rug in our hallway.  She forgets, She’s a dog, and She can’t help herself.

Unfortunately, I am like that at times too. My life will get out of balance when I let to many things capture my attention. The fact of the matter is these things are not bad things. They are good things to do. I find myself taking on more and more things, then I find I am stretched to thin and not effective at any of them. I am learning that I am not super woman. I really cannot do it all. We all may struggle with finding balance in our daily lives. Because in all fairness, most of us are more busy than we have ever been. Juggling family, work, church, and friendships can lead to a three-ring circus. I have learned when things begin to feel out of control, I go to Father God who is in control of it all. I take Him my unbalanced, crazy life and we work together on it. In the quietness of our time together, I find a peace and contentment that comes only spending time with Him alone. He knows me so well. He knows everything about me. He shows me what is best for me and what is not. The time spent in God’s presence is time well spent. It is something that I need everyday. Most days, I find a run to Him all through my day. It is in those days that I feel the most centered and the most balanced.

Some may say that having to much of a good thing is the only way, but I disagree. The only way to live it to have all that God wants me to have for that day. God is the one person you can never have to much of. It is indeed the best way to live.

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

How’s My Love?

Jesus said unto him, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.’ ”  ~ Matthew 22:37

One of the things I have tried to practice in my home is to tell each member of my family how much I love them. I wanted my boys to know as they were growing up that in any situation whether good or bad they were loved by me. Of course, I loved doing things to show them that I loved them. I feel this is indeed very important, but equally important is to say the words, “I love you!” Every time they were leaving to go anywhere or even off with friends. I would tell them to “Be careful, and I love you”. This did get a bit tricky when they moved into that age when saying “I love you” around other people can be embarrassing for a fellow to hear from his mother. So, we used code 143. (I Love You). It was something we did not explain to anyone. It was just something we did. It kind of cracked me up when sometimes when they got older. I would tell them 143 and they would respond back with, “I love you too”. We said it so much that it got to the point when it didn’t matter anymore. Our saying “love you” grew beyond the code. It became our second nature.

In our relationship with God as in our human interaction, we tell others we love God, and we even show our love by our actions, but when was the last time you told God, “I love you!” Maybe this has never occurred to you and that’s okay. I was talking with someone not long ago and this was the case with her. She began telling God she loved him and it made a difference in how she viewed God. She stated that it encouraged her to hear someone praying telling God that they loved Him. Our verse today in Matthew encourages us to love God with all that is in us, our heart, our soul, and our mind. Leave nothing out. We must love completely and love big! God has done so much for us. God shows his love to us, but He also tells us He loves us. (John 3:16) God is the very essence of love. (1 John 4:8) With all that He has done to extend love to us should we not want to love Him back with all that is in us: Heart, Soul, Mind? With our whole heart, the essence of who we are, we serve and love God and others. With our soul, spiritually seeking to love God as He loves while following his commandments. With our mind, using the knowledge and wisdom God has bestowed upon us discerning when we need to go the extra mile in loving.

So I give it to you, my friend. How’s your love? Do you love God with all of your heart, soul and mind. I have to say for myself, I have come a long way, yet I have not arrived. It is something that I am striving for daily. I want to love God the way He wants me to. I do need to remember that this is an area God can help me with.  ‘And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, ‘ (Ephesians 3:19-20)  God wants us to know his love! He can do more than we ask or think. So together, Let’s ask!


Loving the Broken

We all share a common bond. Whether it be physically, emotionally, or even spiritually, we have all had times in our life when we have been broken.  As I am starting to get out and about a little more, I have come in contact with so many of my friends who expressed how glad they were to see me doing better. I can honestly say this is one of the hardest physical tests that I have ever been through except for giving birth to my two boys. Almost every one of my friends has mentioned how hard it must have been to be confined to the chair and/or bed for so long. I would have to agree. It was hard, but there were two reasons why I didn’t go crazy. One reason was knowing that God was with me, and he would never leave me during my hard days. The second reason is the one I would like to focus on today. It is all of the love and support I received from my family, my church family, friends, and even those I didn’t know who were loving me through prayer. They were all reaching out to someone who was broken. Through these dear ones, I have seen and experienced the Love of Jesus.

Last week, I was able to participate in the block party we had in a community near our church. This is a relatively new ministry our church has become involved in the last year or so. I was struck by how many faces I have looked into and realized these people are experiencing brokenness. I am not sure if it is the times we are living in, but so many I have come in contact with lately have been hurting in some way. It is not only in our communities, but in our church pews as well. I read a quote the other day that seemed to sum up what I have been feeling. “Hurt people hurt people.” I am not sure of the author of this quote, but I can relate.  So many times during my time of recovery, I would pray that the Lord help me to speak sweetly especially on days when I was hurting. I think we fail to see that people in our communities and in our churches often speak or react to what we do out of frustration or because they are hurting. It is not always easy to love and reach out to someone who is harsh or cutting with their words, but God calls us to Love. We need Him to love through us. We need to love the broken and hurting people God has put us in contact with. Why? It is simple. God has called us to minister. Sometimes the only time someone may be open to letting the light of God’s love into their heart is during a time of brokenness. It is our chance to be the hands of God reaching out to them.

I am so glad for all those who reached out to me in my time of brokenness. I know I need to take the things I have learned during this time in my life and pass it on. I need to reach out beyond what is comfortable, and love all the ones with whom I come face to face with daily. We have all been in a place where we have been brokenhearted, broken physically etc. So we know what to do. We need to love and bind up the broken. It is what Jesus would do.

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek;  he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;” ~Isaiah 61:1

In Remembrance

The Easter Season is one in which we remember all that Our Lord did for us on Calvary. In remembrance of this unselfish act of love by our Savior, I would like to share with you a post I wrote a few years ago.

On February 23, 1945, one of the largest air raids by the Royal Air Force took place. It happened in Germany at Pforzheim, which is to the west of Berlin.  After World War 2, and because of the many air raids that took place, the rubble of the city was overwhelming so the people began to gather it all into one area. The rubble was gathered then overlaid with dirt and sod. It is called “Teufelsberg” or  “Devil’s Mountain”.  A place of death and sorrow now looms attesting to the fate of the city.  Where there was once a flat place is now a mountain of remembrance.

At the time this was done, I am sure no one realized this would be a place where children now laugh and play. The trees in this place are beautiful and the mountain is abundant with grass and vegetation.  It is a place where couples walk and picnic, and kite flying is a prevalent pastime.  It is amazing that out of death and destruction comes new life and purpose.

This reminds me of another hill of death and destruction: Golgotha, or the place of the skull. At this place, judgment was placed upon those that had broken the laws of the land. It was where justice was satisfied. A place of shame, and a place of death looms to the fate of the guilty.

At Golgotha, a miraculous event took place. One who knew no sin was crucified on a cross. The only man in the world from the beginning to the end of time that had never committed one wrong thought, act, or deed bore in his body your sins and mine. Because of a Holy God, the justice of our sin would have to be paid. I am the one who deserves the judgement of my sin, yet Jesus stepped down from Heaven and took the place that was rightfully mine.

Hebrews 12:2 reads, ”Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of God.”  On this mountain, He endured the cross so I could have joy. From the death of Jesus springs eternal life for all who are willing to accept it.

Golgotha, which to me was once a place where death and sorrow loomed, is now a testimony of a life transformed by the grace and mercy of God. I will look to the mountain which is now a remembrance of the life I now have in Christ.

“I will lift up my eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help.”  Psalm 121:1

Will the Real Me Please Stand Up?

We are taught as girls to be fearless.

 Throughout my young life when confronted with a foe, Well meaning adults told me not to let things bother me. “Put on a happy face,” or “Don’t be so sensitive” and the like were pounded into my brain. Without meaning to, these adults were telling me to hide my real emotions. Be Fearless! was their cry. In the midst of this I began to hide the “real me” behind a rosy cheek and a sweet smile.  The mask of “Everything is  Ok” was put firmly in place and the real me began to build a wall to protect my sensitive heart. Did these people want was best for me? I think that they did. Perhaps, you were in the same situation that I found myself in. To be honest, young girls can say ugly and even hateful things to you and laugh it off as if it is your fault if you took it the wrong way. Self protection lessons were taught to us by loving people who were looking out for our good and hoping that we would learn to be strong through the situation. So in confrontation we learned to suffer in silence and bury the fear we felt. On the outside we were fearless, but on the inside we were determined to hide our emotions and tears. This way of dealing with hurt followed us into womanhood.

Imagine what it would be like to be sitting in the middle of a crowd of women. A fearless soul steps to the microphone and announces, “If you are ready for us to see the real you, would you please stand up?” How many would jump to their feet and make their way to the mike? I sense that it would probably be one of those awkward moments where everyone is waiting for everyone else to stand up, and inwardly thinking, ” No way, not me!” Fear strikes hard and courage flees.

“How can I show you the real me?” The real me is something you don’t want to see. My mistakes and failures are many.  I fall short of what God would have me to be so often. My regrets overwhelm me and I am lacking in the good things you think you know about me. I am so weak and frail, yet in all of my weakness there is someone who knows the real me best. God knows every heartache, tear, and emotion that surrounds me every day. God sees my humanness, and loves me with a great love. He reaches out and holds my face in His nail-scarred hands and whispers, “I know you! I know your faults, and how needy and frail you really are. I also know your heart and when you lean on me in utter dependence how fear of failure can be overcome. By yourself  you are lacking, but with me you have everything you need to break through the fear. My love for you is infinite and nothing you can do or say will make me love you less than I do in this moment. I freely give to you a hope, a peace, and a future.”

God through His Word tells us, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in trespasses and sins hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved:) ~Ephesians 2:4,5    A beautiful truth is revealed when God’s love is realized and experienced. 1 John 4:18 reads, “There is no fear in love for perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not make perfect in love.”   I am sure we have all felt fear tormenting us at times. Fear causes us to shut down and pull our “masks” firmly back in place. Fear can cripple us ,and push the “Real me” further back behind the walls we have built up over our insecurities. However, When we truly look at God, we can experience His perfect Love. Only then, can we become a person that is willing to share a portion of their inner self (the real me) with others.

As you experience the love of God today, ask Him to help you to open your heart to those around you and see a glimpse of the real you coupled with the love of God that shines through you. Will you dare to be fearless today and rely on His perfect love? Remember with God it is possible and probable to be fearless.

It is time for fear to take a seat and let the Real Me stand up. Are you up for the challenge today?

Before You Ask…

Have you ever found yourself in a situation when you wanted something badly? It is not a big thing, or something that will make the world a better place.  It’s just a “it would so nice if this would happen” moment. Let me share such an experience with you.

I had been saving some money toward a new dining room table and chairs. One by one my chair were breaking beyond the point of repair and my table top contained a permanent maker doodle by a young man who will remain nameless (because it was done accidentally, of course). So whenever I had a little extra, I put it in the dining room fund envelope. I was looking at furniture stores in my spare time trying to decide which one would look the best and be the most affordable. I scoured every sale paper waiting for just the right fit for my room and to match the cabinet that my husband and dad had built for me several years ago. The week after Christmas several stores were having end of the year sales and I had invited my sweet in-laws for an after Christmas celebration. I found the perfect set and Gordon and I had saved enough to purchase it. (Great deal, by the way!) I did think and pray on it for a day or two just to make sure I had peace about this one because it was an important purchase for me.  I felt I could go forward with this so I stopped by the store to buy it and have it delivered to my home. After the transaction was complete,  the saleslady said that my table and two chairs would be delivered. I had purchased 6 chairs, but she said that they only had two in the warehouse and the other 4 chairs would not be delivered for two weeks. She asked me if I wanted to go through with the purchase. I was disappointed, but told her to go ahead and then wait and deliver everything  together when all the chairs were in and ready to go. 

I will admit I went home with a heavy heart. I really wanted to use the new set for the special dinner I had planned with Gordon’s parents. I had been experiencing all kinds of emotions since Christmas Eve when Gordon got so sick and I had been trying to keep upbeat and encouraging. I prayed and asked the Lord to strengthen me and to help me not to be disappointed, but to be happy to share this special time with my family. He really helped me when I needed Him that day. I got out a special tablecloth and began to plan my dinner. It would be OK.

Imagine my surprise when on the morning of the day my in-laws were coming, I received a knock on the door at 8:30 a.m. A furniture truck was in my driveway and the workmen were pulling out a table and not two chairs, but all six chairs. I was so excited. God gave me a wonderful blessing that day. God showed me that even the small thing that I did not ask Him for, He gave to me anyway.  God heard my heart’s cry and showed me that the desires of my heart mattered to Him. I felt the love of my Heavenly Father in a very real way. In all that was going on in my life, He gave me an extra ounce of his goodness and love. He took the time to say, “I love you, my child.” In this moment, He whispered, “I just care so much about you.”

The verses that came to my mind are in Ephesians 3:17-20, “That Christ may dwell in you hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love. May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,”  He loves us so much and wants us to experience the fullness of who He is. God wants us to know His love in such a real way that it overcomes us, and we just have to stop and bask in his goodness. I feel He also wants us to share this love with other believers. I know He is a God who can do “exceeding abundantly above”.  He responded to my heart before I could ask or think. He is ready to do that for his children. God loves us just that much.  I have trouble comprehending that kind of  love, but He still wants me to try to comprehend it. Christ wants us to know that He offers this kind of love to us all.

What are you thinking of, but are afraid or reluctant to ask God for? Go ahead and ask Him!

 He knows what you are thinking anyway. 🙂

Blessings in the Storm

I trust that all my friends and visitors to this blog have had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to the New Year to come.  God has truly blessed my family this Christmas with a great family, church family, and a wealth of friends. I say all of this to say that this time in my life has not been without its struggles and things to lay at the feet of our Lord. Many times throughout our walk with the Lord we will face the unforeseen. It will come out when we least expect it and for a moment even hold us so tightly we cannot see which way we should turn. Storms can come upon us suddenly and dark clouds can bring fear to our hearts, yet in all of this we know we have someone who is there beside us in the midst of the darkness and fierce wind. Then it begins, the rain pours down. I have not thought of the rain as blessings, but it truly is so.

We need the rain. The rain nourishes the dry areas. It gives us something that watering from the hose in the yard will not. It cools the atmosphere around us. The leaves of the trees turn upward to receive the rain from the clouds. Sometimes the leaves will actually turn upside down to receive the rain at the place that will give  the most benefit for its delicate root system. The hard ground  softens under the impact of the rain upon it.  When you think about it, the rain has the healing properties in it to make things better for the earth, yet to receive the rain it must be accompanied by the storms.

I have found recently that in the midst of my storm, the Lord has sent his blessings of rain to overwhelm me.  The blessings have covered me at times with small drops and other times with large torrents. Over and over I have felt the love of my heavenly Father cover me with his strength, encouragement, love, and the cascading rain of His blessings. In my time alone with Him, I lifted my hands and heart to accept what He has for me as His spirit pours down like the rain. It has been what I have needed to help me when fear has taken hold of me. I wish that I could say that I am strong enough on my own to weather the storm. We try to hide our weakness so often for fear of what people will think of us, or put on a brave front because we feel it is expected of us. If you could see inside of me, you would know I am so weak and fearful. It is God who has been my strength. If I did not have Him with me I could never face the storms of life.

Not only have I received the blessings from the Lord, but also from the gracious friends and family who have interceded with prayers for me and my family. I do appreciate all of the prayers that have been sent on behalf of us. Thank you. You have been apart of the sweet rain that has covered us.

Blessings to you!

Happy Birthday, Gordon!

I just wanted to let all my friends know that my wonderful hubby, Gordon, is celebrating his birthday today. For those of you who are new to my blog, Gordon has a blog also called “Heavenly Heartburn“. He also has recently been writing a column for Baptist Press Sports. If you have a chance to drop in on him and wish him a Happy Birthday, I know he would appreciate it.

This is for you, Gordon!

I carry your heart with me
I carry it in my heart. I am never without it
Anywhere I go you go,my dear;
And whatever is done by only me is your doing,my darling.

I fear no fate for you are my fate,my sweet.
I want no world for beautiful you are my world, my true
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you.

Here is the deepest secret nobody knows
Here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
And the sky of the sky of a tree called life;
Which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide
And this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart.

I carry your heart. I carry it in my heart.

By E.E Cummings

Happy #12

It seems like yesterday that I was in the hospital giving birth to my eldest child. It was not yesterday, but actually 12 years ago today. I remember counting the days of my pregnancy. I couldn’t wait to become a mom, yet I was a little nervous about having a living, breathing gift from God in my care. I was sent to the hospital by my mid-wife on Monday morning on July 15, 1996. My baby boy was born 32 hours later at 9:00 p.m. I remembered the amazing love that swept over me as the doctor placed that wiggling, crying baby in my arms as my husband and mother-in-love looked on. My boy is constantly amazing me even today. 

Clay is one of those kids that was born to communicate. He loves people. Even as a toddler in the buggy at the grocery store. He wanted to talk to everyone who passed by. He kept the cashiers entertained constantly. If he saw another child, He wanted to “meet that kid” he would say. He organizes the kids at church in games after the service in the church yard. Clay is definitely a go-get-er, and never at a loss for words.

Clay also has a heart for God. At age 5, Clay called on the Lord to save him. His love for God shines through all he does. During Vacation Bible School, he witnessed to some of the kids in his class and encouraged them to make a decision for Christ. One friend of his made a decision to follow the Lord in baptism since he had already accepted Christ. Clay was so excited; he was practically bouncing off the walls. I was so proud of Clay. I pray that God will keep him safe from worldly influences and continue to work in his heart and life.

For the first time in his life, Clay is not with me on his birthday. He is at R. A. camp.  I am probably more melancholy about this than he is. Nothing gets him down for long and I know he is having a blast today with all the new friends he is making. So if all of you would be so kind as pray for “Mom” and “Meme” (Clay’s grandma) today, We would appreciate it. Meme has never missed seeing Clay on his birthday either. She was there for him when he was born and been there for him every day since.

Thanks for taking the time to let me share with you about my boy. He is the joy of my life. Happy “12th” Birthday, Clay! I pray you have 100 more.

“Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord…”  ~ Psalm 127:3