Thursday, December 31, 2015

Love Affair with "1"

If you follow me on social media, you'll know I love, "1." Not one person. The number, "1." Each and every month I get to schmooze with, "1."

After 30, sometimes 31, even the rare 28 days, we get to start over with, "1!" It's a most fantastic thing! We grind, and toil, and sweat, and labor... We go two-steps-forward, one-step-back. We berate ourselves. We kick ourselves back into gear. All along, while we are striving to do our best, the month's digits develops hooks, like those of "3." "5" even develops a spear-like line at its head, ready to hook and stab! Have you ever seen a more scary-looking number than "5?!" But the onslaught of the numeric army isn't done. Those terrorist numbers recruit numbers, and at exactly ten days all digits double-up on us! But just when the month is about to swallow us in a suffocating black hole...

That beautiful, simple, single line, with his fedora-clad head-nod, (we will forgive his feet that are too large) comes swooping in, like superman, to rescue. And I swoon.

Bringing his magic cape to give me a clean slate. Hollering to all the powers that be, "I call doooo overrrrrr!" The atmosphere reverberates with titilating excitement as "1" pulls out his magic wand and draws me a brand new starting line! He's so kind, he even escorts me through some of those double-digit daunting days. Stoically standing there beside the "2," and "5," even "7," saying, "Come on through. I'm here with and for you. You can get through this."

And my crush's powers are never so great and magical as they are every New Year's Eve. Not only does "1" declare a brand new month, but a BRAND NEW YEAR! 

As I delight in my sweetheart, "1," I ask that we remember to never, never, never give up, regardless of where we are in the month, or year. In fact (in case you were about to Baker Act me) "1" is a figment of my imagination. I made him up to better enjoy my conveyance of this certain truth: YOU are the master of "do over." God makes it possible. But YOU have to do it. 

As I complete this fun essay at 2:09pm, 12/31/2015, I have already read about the New Year occurance that is past tense in Asia. I felt no vibrations in the atmosphere as they began their new year. There's literally NOTHING magical about it. It's an act of faith to declare the new year better than the last. An act we should exhibit. 

Let Christ guide you this new year. Make falling at his feet in prayer your reaction to every difficulty. Prioritize living life according to His game plane in scripture.

In Him we have newness of life, and a happy new year. 

Welcome, 2016!
(And I joyfully welcome all appearances of my hero, "1.") 

Friday, December 25, 2015

God Does Gifts Even Better Than You

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

It's never easier to understand the good intentions and plans God has for you, than at Christmas time.

The efforts we each go to in order to see, hear, and experience a recipient's glee is remarkable. As soon as a gift idea comes to mind for someone, our focus becomes very narrow & intense, like a lioness stalking prey. All other projects are handled out of duty, but the search and preparations to make "that" item someone's gift is the source joy, dread, and frustrations. Yet, we are determined to make it happen.  Each morning the first thing on our mind is how and where to get that present. We shop online. We go from store to store. We brave the congested traffic, and the cranky fellow-shoppers. Even WE become cranky in our exhaustive search.

We want to experience that shriek of surprise from a recipient. We want to see that you-shouldn't-have look flood someone's eyes. It's so rewarding to incite surprise tears of joy in someone because we gave them the perfect gift. 

There is nothing so personally fulfilling as being a gifter.

I ask that today you recognize THAT IS HOW GOD FEELS ABOUT YOU! 

God doesn't spend time contemplating your punishment because you've been so sinful. He has eternally contemplated how to swoop in and rescue you from the wages of sin!

God doesn't sit on the throne in a resentful stew over how you've ignored him. He sits on his throne continually sending you love tokens that might catch your eye.

God doesn't allow his mind to be consumed with what you deserve. God's mind is like an eternal Christmas-mind; his thoughts toward you are CONSUMED with providing you with every good and perfect gift. 

There is a "trick" to being on the receiving end of God's gifts; it is that we ASK. In the passage where Jesus is comparing his ability to provide good gifts, to a dad's provision abilities, he points out that the child ASKS for bread and fish. 

Even though God knows the desires of our hearts, he also knows that part of the "purchase" of a gift comes through the power of the tongue. Therefore, Jesus said, "ASK!"

God doesn't think you're being selfish if you ask for your specific desires. He sees your request as a level of trust that is shared between only the closest of companions. I don't tell just anyone what I truly want for a gift. They may see me as "cheap," or as "haughty," or as "ridiculous," if they knew what I really, really want. But if I believe someone loves me, I can trust them to know what the desires of my heart are.

There is great creative-power is speaking out your desires. And there is a sign of great trust in who you reveal your desires to. 

God has repeatedly tried to convince humanity that he delights in relationship. He will play whatever role you need him to play, JUST to be near you. He'll be your father, your husband, your friend, your teacher, your master, your servant. He craves your love and trust. 

So, approach him with the insight that he wants you to trust him enough that you ASK for what you want and need.

You're the child of The KING of kings!

Matthew 7:11
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

My Help

When will I learn to stop seeking solace in physical sources; my family, friends, nature... ?

"I lift my eyes to the hills..."
Why? Why do I seek help from the hills? 

Why do I spin my wheels trying to complete myself with the hills? My ultimate rest and contentment can't be found in the hills.

My help comes from the Lord.
My help comes from the molder and craftsman of the hills. 
My help comes from The Almighty who brings every high place low, and every low place high. 

It is my folly to seek solace in the beauty that surrounds me. My help will come from the Lord. 

Patiently In Place

I like to be used of God. I like to be a blessing to people. Giving of oneself is a high. Acknowledging this is important to humility. I've seen (& have personally experienced) givers excuse their exhaustion, their rudeness, under the guise of Servanthood. In fact, they're (we're) fulfilling an addiction, we're getting our fix. 

It certainly isn't "wrong" or "sinful" to experience the high of ministering to others' needs. It's a natural release God wove into our biological system to encourage us to continue to be good and kind. The problem comes in not recognizing when one has taken on too much, and then lording our "ministry" over others, insisting they get in-line, in-sync to serve OUR need for the high. Each person knows their own heart, and their own spirit. The key is to be very prayerful, and not be self-deceptive.

With that said, over the last few weeks I've been extremely needy of a "hit." I've come to learn the signs about myself, so I recognize when it's come. I lift the veil to show you that it's not easy keeping oneself within the bounds of patience and self-control. 

The Lord has had me of use lately in ways I'm not used to. The newness is difficult. My voice has recently become silently loud. You're reading my voice right now. Writing is a new platform and I'm trying to get used to the "mic."

In the newness and transition I feel hyper-extended. Part of me knows I am safe in God's hands and plan, but another part of me feels nervous, anxious, and desperate to be heard. Part of me sees His hand answering me and intervening for me, but another part of me feels like I'm suffocating in the yet-unanswered prayers. Consequently, much of my energy of the last few weeks have been spent on stillness and sanity. Plus, I've been physically ill on top of the spiritual and emotional imbalance. 

The point of this reveal is certainly not to garner sympathy. (Don't you dare. Don't you dare. Don't you dare.) The point is to share the fact that YOU'RE NOT ALONE in your unrest. You're not the only one who wonders where God is. You, and me, and King David, and Elisha, and thousands of others have experienced moments where they've felt like they were coming out of their skin... But they waited on the Lord, and He REALLY DID complete the work. 

Philippians 1:6 (KJV)
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform [it] until the day of Jesus Christ:

It's not an easy thing for me, but I've learned while "waiting" on the Lord to pursue a peaceful behavior. My advice to others sharing my boat is to not make your home miserable with your personal torment. Do not stir fear and unrest in those around you. Seek peace, and pursue it. 

Yesterday, in my efforts to keep the spinning of my mind from aggravating my home, I went for a walk. I spoke to the Lord as I walked. I cried and told him of my frustrations in NEEDING to feel that "hit" of being used of him.

I reminded him of how I'd been contagiously sick and unable to engage in my normal leadership activities.
He reminded me that he's been giving me multiple scriptural topics a day to write about, and how that was going to be a blessing to people.

"GOING TO...?!" 
I whined to God how it "might" be a blessing... "If" they "happen upon" the writing. 
I'm pretty sure I heard him chuckle at my small-mindedness.

"Do you know how LONG it's been since I've done any projects I've always loved to do?!"
He said, "You've GOT to let the past go. Forget those things which are behind. I've made you into a new vessel. If you try to do those old jobs you'll fail miserably."

Oh, the mourning that ensued right out on the public sidewalk of my neighborhood!
*AND I had forgotten to hold my mobile to my head so people would assume I was talking to someone on the phone! 

My sweet Jesus stepped right up beside me and said, "Hey, you said you wanted to be a vessel, right?"
"Yes!" I answered. "But I want to be a USED vessel!"
He asked, "Didn't you write all of those ideas and encouragements you found in scripture?"
I sighed, "Yes."
Jesus kindly said, "See? You're a useful vessel."
My voice quivered as I said, "But I want to be a loved vessel."
He answered with an affirmation I already knew, "You ARE a loved vessel."
"But, I want to be always in your hand being used."
I looked around for an example of how often I wanted to be in-play. I held the answer in my hand.
"Like my phone is always in my hand being used. That's how I want to be in use."
He laughed. Even I laughed at my exasperation. 
We felt close & comforted in our walk together now. He had calmed my anxiety with his presence. 
He shook his head and said, "I don't have a smart phone, Denee."
We laughed some more. Because, of course he wouldn't have, need, or use a smart phone. 

He has earthen vessels. 
Cracked, chipped, broken, re-glued, repaired, renewed earthen vessels. And I have absolutely no clue as to what shape of a vessel he's made me into. All I care about, ultimately, is being used of God. And if he finds me of best use sitting on a shelf, so be it. If he grabs me to use as a cup to pour into, I say, "Fill me up." If he uses me as a pitcher and pours out all that is within, I say, "Empty me utterly."

In this place I want to patiently be EXACTLY what he needs me to be.

*Yes. I do that. :) 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

I Guard the Tree

My 1st college semester of not going to college has been an important experience. I'd like to share why...

I've always told my kids that they were going to college within driving distance of home. Family is foundational to our lives. Yes. Each of us are talented enough, confident enough, strong enough, intuitive enough to do whatever we want to do independent of each other. But WHY?! If God called us to situations that required it, we could each do it. But we have found great fulfillment in the strength that ONLY togetherness as a family can provide. That unity has been tried and has experienced some fairly severe blows. During these times of pain and fresh wounds we've experienced thoughts and ideas that getting away from the family nucleus may be the best thing after all. But, those were thoughts birthed out of pain and confusion. So, our habit is to WAIT until health comes to redetermine those kinds of plans. And thus far, it's always been best to stay put and work on in our unique family-state. 

Besides, as difficult as it can be to work and abide as such a tight-knit family, I have friends without family. And they listen to my periodic complaints and want to smack me upside my forehead for making a mountain out of a molehill. They find my worst difficulties pleasant and worthy of postcard beauty. So, I appreciate the shoulder they've provided, then shut up. 

My kids were always told, "You're going to college within driving distance of home." So, when my daughter was awarded a combined $40k a year scholarship to a private college within driving distance, we were thrilled and thankful. The school had a rule that would force an experience I had never in a million years considered. The rule was that the student had to live in the dorms, or with parents within 50 miles of the school. Our house is 70 miles from the school. 

For her to live in the dorms just wasn't an option for us. Through my experiences in campus ministry, there was NO WAY I would release my prized possession into such a shark tank. There is no policy so strict (even in church camp dorms!) that can circumvent human nature. It's just the nature of dorm life. My nature and that nature shall never cohabitate. 

I've heard Bible scholars teach that Adam was suppose to protect Eve from the experience at the Tree of The Knowledge of Good And Evil. They've said, "Where was Adam? He was her protector. He was the one to whom God gave instruction. Why was Eve at that tree alone?!", And since we all know that a woman will do what a woman wants to do, if he'd at least have been present and close enough to be a voice to warn her, that may have made a huge difference in the outcome. Regardless, that's a lesson I've taken to heart. As a mother, it's always been my job to protect my children. I will stand guard at this tree. 

I'm aware that a child can be bad right under the noses of their parents. I'm aware spouses can cheat in direct sight of their spouse. I'm aware addicts can get their fix within arms reach of their protector. People do what they want. But, I'm not of an opinion that I should make it EASY for someone in my life to self-destruct. I've experienced being saved from a dark place. I am so exceedingly grateful those people didn't give up on me. It's far easier to keep someone from stumbling into that hole, than it is to dig them out. In fact, in my experience, once someone falls into that hole, all the rescue in the world is nothing if they do not also attempt to dig themselves out. 

College dorms were not a possibility in my world. So, for the first time in my forty-two years of life, I went to college. Not as a student, but as a mom. I rented a one bedroom, one bath duplex. The kitchen is the size of my walk-in closet. My SMALL walk-in closet. I'm from the country where my water was free. Now I'm paying for every little drop. I sleep on a trundle bed beneath my child. I pack to come home every week and am pretty good at living out of my suitcase. It's a most uncomfortable, expensive way of life. But I'm the voice she hears in the morning telling her I love her and I'm praying for her. EVERY DAY. I'm in the house when she walks in and chucks her heavy backpack on the couch. I'm smiling and asking how her day was. Stability. Accountability. 

It is in no way "the same" as when she was in high school. I'm definitely less of the authority and more of a partner. It's a unique setting. She called me "mom" all through middle and high school. It was who I was. I loved it. But she literally calls me "mommy" in the tenderest tones now. It seems as though her maturity has erased whatever stigma a child feels in using the more elementary term. I love it even more. I feel my role is more of a "Jiminy Cricket conscience," than the because-I-said-so mom role. I try to think of myself as her mentor with more words and counsel than as the Queen on the throne with the power to pronounce, "Off with her head!" She KNOWS the bottomline is truly, "because I said." But it's not the environment of our college life. 

We talk about her classes and projects. I hear about ideas and philosophies that are contrary to God's Word. She knows quickly the topics that concern me. We don't have to wait until the weekend to discuss seeds that were sown into her thinking in class. These conversations naturally put us in a setting that causes her to reassure me of her knowledge of truth. I LOVE that out of her own mouth, within hours of classes, she gets to counter philosophy with knowledge and wisdom. 

But the decision for me to go to college with my daughter actually goes beyond salvation of soul. Half of college scholarships are lost at winter break, tied to "homesickness." People may think it's expensive to go to college with their kid, but it seems to me that the loss of a scholarship is even more costly. You see, an "age" is not a magic wand making a person's need for the stability & accountability of family and friends non-existent. That 17, 18, or 19 year old doesn't suddenly not need the comforts of home because society has an educational system we have to function within. (A system, by the way, that is NOT bible-based, NOT family-based, NOT morally-based.) These scholarships are lost because the emotional strain on a person fresh out of high school, plunged into a strange new world is intense. So intense that listening and retaining in class is far more difficult than it was in high school. Studying is attempted under the weight of depression and anxiety. Nervousness ALL triggered by the simple loss of rigid parents, annoying siblings, and the drama of friends. Everybody assumes getting away from these home-pressures makes college life easier. But it's rarely the case. These elements, though weights, were routines which anchored the soul and mind more than is realized.

Imagine how nervous you are when you get a new job. The routines of the workplace are all different. And yes, the annoying people from the past workplace are out of your way, but now there is a whole new batch of people to get to know. After that kind of stressful day at your new job, imagine that you don't have the comfort of home to return to. You're returning to a bunch more strangers, and not only do you have a new social structure to fit into at the new job, but now you do at "home" as well. 

There's a powerful refuge found in smells, and sounds, and even the familiar textures your skin is used to feeling. "Home" is more than the building, but it IS the building too. And the comfort of the same-old junk drawer, and the same-old stain on a carpet. The voices, the textiles, the smells; all of these (and more) make returning to the difficulties of the outside world tolerable. When we remove this place of refuge from the equation, we've tremendously jacked-up the stress levels of what happens in the wide-world.

I've been pecking away at pieces of this blog here and there for a few weeks now. But I awoke this morning to an article in the Orlando Sentinal that prompted me to wrap this up. It was a story about how diligent colleges and police departments must be at this time of year. Due to final exams, and kids going home to face parents, the suicide rate goes up. Police officers have the very unpleasant duty of Baker Act-ing students who've attempted suicide. These bright students who earned scholarships were shell-shocked by their inability to focus on learning in their fish-out-of-water environment. 

Can kids suck it up and just do college on their own? Of course. But sometimes the brightest of them falter. When they can't, yet another slam to their dreams and self-confidence is endured. Some kids never get over the "failure," and every job interview, every relationship, every dream is tempered by the "college failure," experience. I've told Morgan over, & over that giving up the scholarship, & taking time off from school IS NOT FAILURE. It's wisdom & courage when it's a thought-through decision. But internally I know she'd have a far more difficult time regathering her self-confidence if emotions, moods, or friendships derailed her. We've experienced a few hiccups. Situations that I KNOW my presence made all the difference in the world.

In essence, the college is paying my 18 year old $40k a year to attend their school. That's a serious income for such a young person! OF COURSE I'm going to be the first & last voice she hears each day. And I'm not going to give the enemy of her soul a chance to slip in during this vulnerable time-period either. This operation takes all-hands-on-deck. I've not gotten a child off my plate by sending her off to college, I've upped my responsibility. If THEY see $40k worth of potential in my child, I will not cease to realize MY impact in this person's life as well. 

Is living out of a suitcase, and paying rent on a second home the only way to accomplish this? No. If they didn't have that "dorm rule," I woudn't be. But she WOULD BE driving back and forth, and the fuel costs, not to mention time on the road taking from study, would be costly. It all comes out fairly even. I'm super thankful for the opportunity to be present when warning signs have popped up. I don't think I'm doing all of this perfectly, I seek prayer and counsel often. But, I want to do the best that I can to provide the stability and accountability for her to properly handle this "Tree Of the Knowledge Of Good And Evil."

My child does not have a choice in this matter.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Punishment Is Not My Job

I've just finished the book of Leviticus where so much law is written. God gave the children of Israel dietary laws, hygiene laws, community-care laws. He gets really detailed about the cleanest, most effective way humans can live their lives. And, after all, as the Creator of humans, He'd certainly know best! 

As I write, we are in the midst of suffering the atrocities of those who practice extreme-Islam, and believe they are carrying out God's judgment on infidels by beheading, exploding, stabbing, and whatever other means they deem equivalent to the "crime" of not converting to Islam. Not to mention, in the news this past week, a man claiming to be a Christian took lives at a Planned Parenthood location in Colorado Springs, CA. It's all despicable and extreme nonsense!

In the last many years I've heard various journalists and interviewees make reference to the Bible in comparison to the Quran. In their ignorance, they try to tell an ignorant-of-scripture audience that the Bible is as bloody as the Quran. They reference the Old Testament's Levitical law of stoning for adultery, incest, homosexuality, working on the Sabbath. They spotlight the eye-for-an-eye judgement, or the tooth-for-a-tooth.

It's equally disturbing when Christian's actually believe they are suppose to take on the ancient role of the long-deceased Hebrews, and indeed take these punishments into their own hands. 

So, are the journalists correct to assume the Bible actually does endorse the punishment of death for those who have broken any law of God? Are those Christians who take up arms to take a life-for-a-life at abortion clinics pleasing God? 

A thousand times, "No!"

It is ignorance, and folly, perhaps even an act of hatred of Christianity on the part of the media to report that the Bible endorses such hideous acts.

It is insanity and indeed more hatred for so-called "Christians" to take up a sword to destroy those who are breaking a moral law. 

In the Old Testament we do find the death penalty being practiced by God's ordination. But NOT in the New Testament. For those ignorant of the Bible, they do not realize that the scripture is broken up into two parts. In today's order of God-seekers we Christians understand that the Old Testament is no longer the rule book. It now serves us as a gauge of God's likes and dislikes, and it's stories are symbolic examples of relationship with God. The majority of Christians, of all branches of Christianity, understand that the Old Testament is not our guide, it is our gauge. The New Testament is our guide. My pastor taught me that we only tie Old Testament laws to New Testament living if the writers of the New Testament refer us to it. For instance, Paul clearly taught the God-seekers after the resurrection of Christ that the dietary laws were no longer required. But he clearly told us to continue to observe the sexual abstinences such as adultery, homosexuality, cross-dressing, etc. There are some core-laws that we continue to carry out (Thou shall not kill, being one.) But they are taught to be observed between God and man. Not between God and "a people." This is why we believe pastor's should TELL the people what the scripture says, but not go house to house policing and insuring each person is obeying. It's not the minister's job to make sure people obey. It's the preacher's job to "blow the trumpet" of truth. It's each individual's job to please God through adherence. 

Here's an example of a way the Old Testament is helpful to God-seekers: When I was a teenager and a boy would ask me to be his date to a school function, or a banquet, or something, he would do something very smart; he'd ask my friends about me. He wanted to know what color I liked, and what my favorite flower was. And those friends of mine would give him some advice he didn't even know to ask about, "Do NOT eat ice around her. The crunching drives her CRAZY."

This is akin to what the Old Testament is to us today. The Word was with God, and is, in fact, GOD. So when you are reading the Bible, you're not reading just another book. It's a spiritual experience. The book is alive! It is God's longest running friendship. The Old Testament is a friend that tells us, "He loves such-and-such. He hates this-or-that."

The Old Testament is certainly NOT a present day instructional for judgment and punishment.

In the New Testament we find TWO attempts to reenact the Old Testament Levitical law. One was of stoning for adultery. They brought a woman to Jesus who had been caught in the compromising position. But Jesus refused to be pushed around by their manipulation. As God-robed-in-flesh he had every right to stone her. As the only sinless human on earth he had every right to stone her. But as Jesus-the-citizen he did not have the right to stone her. The Old Testament did not require the citizens to take the death penalty into their own hands. The law didn't release a socialistic vigilante system of government. The Old Testament required the citizens to take the matter to the governing body and to then have a fair trial. Jesus absolutely REFUSED to be the hand of punishment.

The second time we see people in the New Testament reaching back to the Old Testament law is in the stoning of the preacher, Stephen, for the crime of blasphemy. But the scripture points this out as an act of violent sin. This was not an approved-of-God judgment and punishment.

In the Old Testament we are given a window into what God (who is the same yesterday, today, & forever) like, dislikes, and utterly loathes. This unique window of what God approves or disapproves of is very clear. And is not necessarily in sync with any of our personal opinions about whether or not he's "a little overboard" in HIS approval or disapproval. For instance, I would personally deem stoning for working on the Sabbath an extreme reaction to a lightweight offense. But, [ahem] I am not God. And in the same way that you and I differ on what we find acceptable within our own house-rules, God is as unique an individual. And just as if I want to enjoy your company, I would need to make sure my scent, habits, & ticks do not repel you. So, those of us who seek to be in God's presence make sure to be enticing and enjoyable to be around to Him. The point of thenOld Testament today is for those who want to have a relationship with God.

It's NOT to tell us what offenses we should punish.

James 4:12 (KJV) There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?


The one who made the law is the one who judges. The one who made the law carries out punishment.

We use the scripture to judge our OWN life. We use the scripture to see what God likes and dislikes. He has the SAME likes and dislikes today, yesterday, and forever. But when a fellow human does something God finds dispicable, YOU are not ordained to punish them for it. 

That you choose to tolerate your spouse consistently leaving the milk on the table instead of them putting it away doesn't mean you APPROVE of your spouse's behavior. 
That you choose to tolerate your friend's choice of food doesn't mean you APPROVE it. 
That you choose to tolerate your kid not making their bed doesn't mean you APPROVE of their leaving it unmade.
Your tolerance simply means you're being graceful, and that you're loving them in spite of their rule breaking. You'll even clean up after them! 

Though it's hard for people to understand, God has this same kind of tolerance. It doesn't mean he approves of law-breaking, it just means he's full of grace and mercy. 

We DO NOT kill abortion clinic workers. 
We DO NOT kill homosexuals or adulterers. 
We DO NOT take matters of eye-for-an-eye into our own hands.

We see that Jesus obeyed the law of the land when we read about him paying taxes. Even in his utter righteousness he did not take matters of the government in his own hands. He was being an example to us. 

You and I should each strive to do what is right. We should not ignore examples in scripture. But it's not my place to judge and punish you for displeasing God. I am your spiritual sibling, not your parent. It's none of my business if you get a "spanking" for breaking one of God's rules. I'm not going to approve of your behavior that is contrary to God's desires and instructions for mankind. But I'm not going to be your executioner either. 

The Word will guide you into what pleases God, if you will obey it.
God himself, as the lawmaker, will take care of you to whatever degree he deems appropriate and best.

The Bible does NOT condone or approve of Christians taking matters of justice into their own hands. Jesus clearly taught us to live within the boundaries of the laws of the land. If we want a matter changed, we do it STRICTLY through legal means. PERIOD.

The whole foundation of Christianity is FAITH. We believe in Christ's virgin birth. We believe in the miracles he performed. We have faith that he truly rose from the dead. Faith is no less a vital element then in feeling panged at society's blatant disregard for laws we know to be sacred. Like abortion, gender-acceptance, and so on. If someone somewhere is doing something inappropriate; "Be not deceived, God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man soweth, THAT shall he also reap."

FAITH is what you must exhibit in these matters, not judgement or punishment. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Have A Courageous Holiday

Life has caused some storms that forced a rewiring in order to spark my abilities to be happy, and make others happy.

Pre-storms: I was wired to assume the best would be the outcome in every situation. 

Post-storms: I have experienced MOST of my well-laid plans not even remotely working out. So I was glitching and assuming the worst, which made me unable to get out of bed.

If you've heard me speak, or have read my blog, you've likely heard me mention a book I read a few years ago called, "Happy For No Reason," by Marci Shimoff.

Oh! When I first saw the title of that book smiling at me from the public library shelf, I was immediately angry and resentful. I was looking in the self-help section because I had been crying and disfunctional for a couple of years, at least. I wanted a REASON to be happy! I had accepted, "Get Dressed For No Reason." And "Breathe For No Reason." But I was able to do those things because someday I would have a REASON to be happy. 

A book telling me how and why to be "Happy For No Reason," just ticked me off. But I knew I HAD to read the book. 

It changed my life. 

I had been waiting for God to make me happy, to give me reasons to be happy. But God was teaching me something new; "I'm going to sustain you while YOU learn the tricks-of-the-trade of getting through fiery trials with the right attitude."

Over the last few years I've learned some things, things that perhaps you need to be made aware of. Accept the rewiring that needs to occur. We find ourselves frustrated, spinning our wheels trying to make things how they used to be. But, God has determined to make all things NEW. He's not allowing peace to come from the old methods. We've got to forget those things which are behind. We've got some learning to do.

I learned how to be content in whatever state of mind I found myself in. By accepting the reality of what I was dealing with, by thinking hopeful thoughts, by speaking life into the atmosphere around me, I began to gain some control over my state of mind. I determined to let the past be done, and I began to deliberately impact the future with present behaviors. I decided I was as ignorant and as undeveloped as a newborn. I'm not where I need to be yet. But, I'm not where I was either! Yes, I'll have days where sadness will come calling and I'll feel like I've not made any progress at all; but I've been rewired to get through difficult hours with patience. In fact, it IS only a few hours of emotional unrest now. In the past, it was DAYS. I'm getting better at this! :) 

There are some struggles I've not yet felt released to divulge to the public. But I CAN tell you that the joy, peace, and victories I've experienced have blown my ever-lovin' mind. And He's not finished yet! If this is my experience, I can promise you, it can be yours too! You too can feel strong and capable again! But, you can't demand it come by your methods. Your job is to learn how to do life in a completely new and different way. 

In the meantime...

As we move into the holidays, starting with this Thanksgiving, I am aware that some wounds are going to feel inflamed. My wounds. Your wounds. You're likely already feeling it. For some of you, the wounds have healed, and most days their existence is forgotten. But holidays cause the same reaction to your soul-scars as wet, cold weather causes old football injuries. Sometimes the scars ache. 

As you go into the holidays I encourage you to, first of all, be mentally prepared for it. Accept that it might show itself. And if/when it does, have a game plan in place. Maybe have a list of scriptures to read or listen to, to give you a quick pick me up. Plan to take a nap. Don't plan to do all of the usual traditions. Or do like me, and (gasp) refuse to do ANY of the traditions. After I saw the attempts at traditions were triggering depression in us, I chucked those traditions. We started having fun creating brand new ones! 

Go into every situation with a prayer. Ask God for strength. Ask God to make the situation as smooth as possible, and to give you wisdom to best handle it. Before you step into the next one, pray again. 

Lastly, give yourself a break. Speak life. Be joyful and positive. But, it's ok to go in a back room and cry for a bit. Just don't get lost in the back room. Blow your snozzle ASAP, and wade back in. PLAN to give yourself a break. 

Wherever you are in your storm, mid or post; YOU CAN DO THIS! Trust me, you will enjoy life again. I haven't quite got the "reasons" to be happy that I wanted. But God has sustained me. I feel better equipped at facing difficulties now. And I am experiencing the miraculous! God is proving to me that God sees me, and that He will work ALL THINGS out for my good. 

Maybe you will, or maybe you won't, have a "happy holiday." 
But you can have a strong, courageous holiday! 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The [insert your name here] Project

God is NOT finished with you!

Look around at all things beautiful and comforting; from the great outdoors, to a cozy quilt, to a delightful baby. These took TIME & STAGES to create. 

Where you are today is not the end of "The You Project."

God is not a procrastinator. He doesn’t have a craft room, or shed, full of half finished projects. He is the most deliberate, purposeful, well-planned individual EVER. 

The way a farmer knows what fields need what ground enhancements, when. 
The way a wedding planner knows what week to do each preparatory task. 
The way a gardener knows which plant goes in which zone, and when. 
This is how God sees you and your needs. He KNOWS how to complete you better than you know yourself.

He knows when to do what. He knows how to do each step and stage so that its so perfect. And he LOVES the project of "You."

What are you passionate about?

Do you LOVE to cook? Do your happy-endorphins start going nuts just reading recipes? 

Do you LOVE to exercise? Does just strapping on your running shoes cause you to feel empowered? 

Do you LOVE to make furniture? Does the very smell of saw dust, or the squeal of the saw make your senses stand to attention? 

Do you LOVE coffee? Does talking about the age of the coffee bean, the temperature of the water, the perfect froth just cause you to come alive with energy?

However you feel about your passion, realize; that's how God feels about,
"The [insert your name here] Project."

He's consumed with you. 
He's invigorated by you. 
He's so delighted about you that he SINGS.

Don't allow despair to drown you. Don't give fear a foothold. Begin to sing songs of hope and faith. Begin to smile in the knowledge of what is unfolding. Snap your fingers, clap your hands, create some joyful rhythms!

Begin to say things like, "This is going to be AWESOME!"
When somebody asks, What's going to be awesome?"
Smile at them and say, "What God is doing for me is going to be AWESOME!"


Isaiah 49:16 (KJV) 16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of [my] hands; thy walls [are] continually before me.

Matthew 10:30 (KJV)
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

Zephaniah 3:17 (KJV)
The LORD thy God in the midst of thee [is] mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

John 14:18 (KJV)
I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

Haggai 2:9 (KJV)
The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Being An Acceptable Sacrifice

I am a stubborn person. My stubbornness has caused me much pain. It's given me much victory and satisfaction as well. Of course, human nature is to function in the belief that if one can get away with something once, perhaps we can again!

This is why we get speeding tickets. Those "speed trap" towns that we know exist... We absolutely do not go so much as one mile over the speed limit there. We've learned that they are CONSISTENT in their punishment. But put us on a highway where the speed "limit" has come to be defined as "speed suggestion," and we are downright indignant if we get pulled over for a ticket! Why? Because the issuing of tickets is sparadic on highways. We do what we can get away with until we're stopped. Then we, of course, gripe and complain about the cost of the fine, the unyielding officer... Oh, the outrage! 

My stubbornness has won me some good favors. Through maturity and experience I've learned to distinguish between the good and the bad uses for it. Because my endurance and tolerance levels aid my stubbornness, I usually end up the winner. But, I'm sorry to say that it has not always worked to my benefit. It has, at times worked to destroy me. I feel so indignant and cheated when I've been harmed by my self-will. I was at quite a loss for how to start over. But I've learned a secret for recovery and beginning with a clean slate. I hope my painful lessons can help others. 

“But he shall wash the inwards and the legs with water: and the priest shall bring it all, and burn it upon the altar: it is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord.”
Leviticus 1:13 KJV

I've had many stretches of road on my journey with God that were outside the laws of limits. Much like my speeding on highways, because God didn't smack me down each and every time I stepped outside of covenant, I felt like my law-breaking speed was as acceptable as the actual law. In these time periods I would excuse my bad attitude, I would blow off conviction, I would get an attitude with the other drivers who were "in my way."

But a part of me would KNOW I was breaking the law of God. Even if it might have been a "lesser law." Much like our experiences speeding, we excuse the fact that we're literally breaking THE LAW, with the argument of, "At least I'm not killing somebody." But sometimes simple speeding DOES kill somebody., and so officers of the law take time where they pause their work on the more serious crimes to remind citizens that even the lesser crimes are a problem. 

That part of me that knew my sin-nature was in opposition to God's law, and that I was out of sync with God's people would rein myself into the limits. I'd use my self-discipline techniques and present my body as a living sacrifice. But I discovered something in my offering that surprised me; unacceptance.

How was it that I brought myself into the confines of what God and man asked for, but I wasn't feeling that acceptance I craved? 

I felt indignant! I really didn't like that I wasn't feeling approval. After all, I had brought my offering to God. Even though I didn't WANT to get in sync with God's plan, and I felt the people around me were unfair and judgemental. I STILL BROUGHT MY OFFERING! Why wasn't that enough?!

In the scripture I've included above, Leviticus 1:13, we see a step involved in sacrifice that many of us fail to do; washing the innards and the legs. 

When we come to God without repentance we will feel the frustration Cain felt when his offering wasn't accepted. We're being STUBBORN. And it's not fixing anything. We want to appear before man as holy and "as good" as they are. (Ahem. NO man is good, but God. That's why we need him.) But we're still experiencing a breach. WHY?! 

We've got to not only bring ourselves as a living sacrifice, but we've got to do some cleansing.

2 Corinthians 7:1 says, "Cleanse YOURSELVES of all filthiness of the flesh and spirit." We ask for God's forgiveness, but we have a part in the cleansing process as well. 

We know when a part of our heart is stubbornly holding on to that thing we must let go of. And I'm sorry to tell you that this isn't a simple two-step process. Some stuff requires "wrestling" our spirit to rid ourselves of it. Sometimes there aren't more detailed instructions outside of the simple, "Just do it." And when we're experiencing these complicated wrestlings, we must use the same stubbornness that caused us to defy God's law, to come back into peace with God's law. Where there's a will, there's a way. Get STUBBORN about fixing it.

We most certainly will not cleanse ourselves if we're not continually putting ourselves into the waters of prayer. We must pray until the living water of the Holy Ghost comes pouring out of our inner most being.

Some heart matters require more than "a quick rinse." But stay at it, as many days or weeks as it takes. Get your inside clean. 

The other part of us that must be cleaned for acceptable sacrifice is our legs. We have been with people we should not have been with. We have gone places we should never have gone. We have got to wash ourselves of the past. We've got to confess that these places and things were not pleasing to God. And we've got to cleanse the dust of our past from us. We must remove all traces of where we've been. Sometimes, in our cleansing we'll realize there was more mud than we remembered. And it may take, as with the heart, several washing to get that caked-mess out. But keep scrubbing because the fulfillment is WORTH it.

In this cleansing we will find the experience we crave of being an acceptable sacrifice. Our lives will feel useful. We will once again begin to live in the purpose we were designed for. Accepted and useful to both God and man.

I've had to learn to use my stubbornness to outlast the devil, not outlast God or his people. I've learned to use my stubbornness to rid myself of the people and places that were outside of God's perfect law of liberty. But I'm glad and thankful that I've learned to cleanse myself of all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.

Use your stubbornness to fulfill your acceptable sacrifice. You'll be glad you did!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

It's Ok To Be Tired

I'm forty-something years old. 
My mother birthed all of her children at home, so I live in the same town I was born in. I've travelled all over the world, but I've never lived anywhere besides Belleview, FL.
I've worked for only two bosses in my entire life. 
I've worked at my current job for twenty years. 
I've lived in the same house for twenty years.

While that sounds incredibly monotonous and boring, you'd have to live with me, attend my church, or follow me on social media to know my life is FAR from boring or monotonous. 

People view me as hyper, flighty, energetic, busy, adventurous, social, and a part of me is all of these things. But I'm rarely seen as, "tired." And I'm glad about that. I work hard to put and keep my BEST foot forward and visible. I loathe attention, pity, and drama. I absolutely refuse to be anybody's victim. When I am sick, or am dealing with trauma I want to be LEFT ALONE. My career keeps me in a highly visible place. I don't mind. My personality was created for such a role. But I know when I need solitude, and I've learned the health benefits of taking a break.

It's possible to take a break without quitting the job.

Thanks to our societies' media coverage of musicians and singers we all know how "weird" artists can be.
Guess what...
That's what I am.
By nature I'm a slightly bi-polar, emotional creature. And the very thing that has kept me from destroying myself IS the very thing that I sometimes feel is killing me; CONSTANCE.

To constantly work the same job, to constantly live in the same house, to constantly be in the same town, to constantly work out the same troubles.... This is maddening!

In these bad-seasons (and I've had MANY) my nature tells me that I'm suffocating. I can't tell you how often I've wanted to cut ties and RUN. I've had to ball-up and wait out intense panic attacks, overwhelming depression. When I tell you that you should be still, chill, and be patient; I'm not suggesting you do something I don't understand the weight of. 

It is EXHAUSTING being constant.

It's ok to be tired in your ministry. It's ok to be tired in your parenting. It's ok to be tired in your work. But it's never ok to give up. 

There is a true statement in our memes, and motivation books that says something like, "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten."

While this statement is true, it's neither a license to be immoral, or a magical wand allowing you to quit a necessary task. If you've discovered a new door, or new path, the slowest, most extreme of caution should be taken before setting foot there. The multitude of counsel must be engaged. If your personality is like mine and you find great excitement in exploration, you should invite and insist on trepidation to be a part of the scenario.

FEAR THE FLIGHT. If a person does not fear flight they are either suffering from a disease akin to Urbach-Weithe, or they've done so much flying they've gotten used to it. Likewise in life; if you've gotten comfortable with flying to greener pastures, you've been doing it too often. You should likely stop flying, and start growing roots. Start insisting that you stay and go through the seasons. If you've planted yourself by the rivers of living water, you'll come out of each season ready and able to handle the next. And only in this state will you FINALLY experience being the green others are attracted to.

A person shouldn't quit their job because they are sick of the lack of respect, or aren't being paid enough on the job. What they can do is start submitting resumes and applications for a different job while remaining constant in the current one.

A stale marriage shouldn't be escaped because there's no sparkle in the relationship. Remain constant in kindness while you seek ways to mend the relationship.

Children shouldn't be yanked from their school because there's a rift with a teacher, or another student. Attendance and rule-adherence should remain constant while professional conversations are hammered out.

Volunteers in ministry shouldn't chunk their service of edification because of aggravation in a department. Remain constant in your work for God while you communicate your frustrations to the proper source.

And never, never, never leave the church because someone has hurt you. Remain constant in attendance and volunteer.

I can give details into EVERY ONE of the scenarios above because I have faced and endured ALL of them. I'm not proud of how I handled them. But I can testify of having much more to show for my life than some others whom I've seen cut and run. I enjoy the benefits of multiple generations STILL working together in ministries because constancy was the one (and sometimes only) thing we held in common.

Because I've stayed constant to my same congregation, instead of fleeing to "greener pastures," I get to watch the beauty of grandmothers snuggle shoulder-to-shoulder to snap pictures of their grand babies. It's beautiful because I remember when they were in their thirties and suffered a painful rift. Their constancy allows them to share a present abundance of joy. My constancy allows me to witness it. Because I've chosen to be constant, I've beheld the miraculous love shared between the merciful. We're all still living peaceable lives together because we determined to remain constant.

So, you may be tired. That's ok. Just don't quit, leave, or burn bridges. Stick it out. You'll be glad you did.

PS: If you find yourself away from those you wished you'd remained constant to, say hi. That's an awesome first step. :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Dear Madison; National M&M Day

Dear Madio;

From conception you've been making impromptu, surprise parties.

I used to rock your older sister and think, "I'm not having my next baby until Morgan is in K-4, so that I can then devote and enjoy the same depth and quality of time with each baby."

Before Morgan's first birthday you were all, "Ba-BAM!" In an explosion of surprise you said, "Ready, or not, here I come!"

I had no clue! 

Due to a fibroid tumor in the way of natural childbirth, I was watched carefully throughout my pregnancy with you. They also scheduled your cesarean delivery two weeks earlier than the due date to avoid the threats the tumor presented. Between myself, the magical midwives, the highly trained doctors and nurses, we obviously had your surprises under control. 

We turned out to be no match for your stealth. A full eight weeks before you were scheduled (TWO WEEKS EARLY) you were all, "Ba-BAM!"

I had no clue!

I had to pop a pill and lay in bed for two whole months to tie you down. They said you needed more development time. (See? You never have been patient about development!) I didn't even need to check the time to know when it was time to take that anti-contraction pill. Within ten minutes of being past time, you would start shaking the rafters with contractions, "I'm Madison, and I'm raring to go!"

I had no clue! 

When you were born via cesarean delivery, the FIRST thing you heard outside the womb was a joke. My doctor was telling the joke about a man being caught by a bear in the woods unawares. He told the joke up until, "The man fell to his knees and..."
But he forgot the punchline! 
Through the anesthesia I groggily asked, "Are you kidding me?! You don't know the punchline?!"
Everybody laughed. 
I finished it for him, "The man dropped to his knees, closed his eyes and prayed, 'Oh, Lord, let this be a Christian bear!" And when he opened his eyes the bear was on his knees, praying, "Oh, Lord, for this food we are about to receive, may we be truly grateful."
The room erupted in laughter.
There you were. 
I fell back to sleep.
So, yeah...
Your need for humor should come as no surprise. You were born under the banner of laughter.
(Honestly, I don't remember every detail of this timeline. I was, after all, highly drugged.)

I had no clue.

You CONSTANTLY made noise. Even in your sleep you would hum. In your infant swing while staring out into space, you would hum. While playing alone with your toys, you would hum. It turned out you had a LOT to say, but we didn't know you were deaf in your right ear, and hard of hearing in your left ear. You weren't able to hear how to pronounce words. That humming; you were speaking as best you knew how. 

I had no clue. 

We started all kinds of hearing tests. First homemade ones. Then the professionals started checking you out. We didn't have much money, so a lot of students practiced and learned on you. Then we started speech therapy. It turns out you couldn't hear high frequency sounds, like "s," "t," or "d."

I had no clue. 

We met some really nice people because you couldn't hear. People who were intrigued by you and began testing more than your hearing, they wanted to test your intelligence. You scored off the charts.

I had no clue.

When you were six or seven years old you thought that when you grew up, you would grow out of deafness and into hearing. That's how everything else was working; people grew out of crawling into walking. People grew out of baby clothes into grown-up clothes. So it stood to reason that you would grow out of deafness into hearing like the grown-ups.

I had no clue.

That day you curled up into my lap and mourned. You sobbed. We both cried. I told you then, and would tell you each time you would cry about your inability to be "normal" that you didn't need the full capacity of those senses, God had use of your bodily-vessel for service in unique ways.

What I DID have a clue about was that since I didn't plan on your arrival, since I had done all I knew to do to NOT have a baby. It was so clear to me that you were mandated by God to live in this world for such a time as this. You know I don't blame everything on God. But you really, really surprised me. 
I had no clue.
You are God's "fault."

You're 6'5" now. You ALWAYS make a grand entrance. You are a walking, living surprise party. Anyone who knows you, knows one thing; Never expect the ordinary.

You surprise everyone with your appearance, just like you did me. Every person of every age of every ethnicity feels like you are their best friend. People going about their day, carrying chips on their shoulders, or hauling burdens in their heart.
And then, there you are!
Smiling and humming, "Hi!"

Your smile conveys the idea to them that they're not alone.
Your presence states, "I'm big enough to help you carry your burdens." 
Your deafness says to them, "Being imperfect is totally OK!" 
Your constant "humming," words we understand now, makes even the outcast to feel, "This person is interested in me."

We all have our place in this world, and yours is to be Christ's hands and feet, conveying to all humanity, "You are fearfully and wonderfully made."

I'm so thankful God knew better than my five-year-plan. Your existence goes beyond my careful plans. Your existence is due to God's ways, thoughts, and plans being higher than mine. Everything about you shows His handiwork. You will leave the palm of my hand someday, but you should cleave with all your being to His hand.

Here's at least one thing I'm not clueless about: He makes everything you touch a beautiful surprise party.


Dear Morgan; National M&M Day

Dear Morgan;

When I was seventeen years old I was in Germany. At breakfast in our lodge everyone would greet each other with, "Guten morgen!" (Aka: Good morning.) I immediately knew I wanted to name my someday-daughter, Morgen. Several years later I saw a movie about a tough-cookie, girl pirate who took the helm when her captain-dad died. She continued his journey to attain his rightful treasure. It turns out lots of people were also pursuing the treasure and she had her work cut out for her. BUT SHE DID IT! The character's name was Morgen. I was even further certain that I wanted to name my girl, "Morgen."

From before you were conceived I wanted to raise a daughter who was beautiful, knew how to behave as a lady, but could navigate stormy seas and attain the treasures-of-goals she sought, even if it cost her beauty and ladylike behavior. And I felt that this was absolutely a base assumption to have for my child; not only have I personally always felt capable of pursuing and doing anything in my heart, but the rest of your family-tree also showed this capacity.

I named you after my mother, Naomi. Naomi is an AMAZING human. I would need more than a blog to tell of the very cool things she has been involved in and accomplished. (Pretty sure I'll be writing that book.) And your father's mom, Lola, has done equally amazing things. (Another book.)

You, little missy, came from the womb and completely bypassed almost every trait and characteristic of myself and your father. Those two indomitable women, your grandmothers, wove such a tight web of DNA, you were caught in it with no choice but to live forever in their spell.

I named you, Naomi Morgan. That name I had decided upon at seventeen years of age was still in my spirit, and it was the name you'd wear for life. I had no clue how prophetic your naming was. I wasn't TRYING to name you via a spirit of prophecy. But it happened.

The name, Naomi, means, "pleasant," or "sweet." It's my mom's name. It's one of my favorite Bible hero's names. It was a good choice. 

For your middle name, of course, Morgan. 

But, if you'll remember, this came from the German word for "morning." 

I spelled it, M-O-R-G-A-N.
This changed EVERYTHING! Your name went from meaning "Pleasant Morning," to meaning, "Pleasant Seashore."

As you know, we don't have much money to banter about at will. It is highly unlikely that we will ever own a piece of real estate on any seashore. Seaside real estate is among the most expensive property on the planet. It's highly coveted land. It offers the best views. It has the most relaxing and peaceful ambiance. People will spend large amounts of cash for even one night of restful restoration at the seashore. 

But, if there's a storm a'brewing...

When you were two, and three years old, this was disconcerting. It was a daunting day for this new mommy, when you were four years old, and I picked you up from your first day of school with an IMMEDIATE parent/teacher emergency meeting. The problem was that you had learned to write your name a long time before, in all caps. This new person you hadn't learned yet to trust had the audacity to try to teach you lower-case letters. After throwing a pencil and some crayons, you clenched your teeth, gripped both hands onto your tiny chair and declared loudly, "I WILL NOT WRITE THAT!"
That was disconcerting. 

But a friend gave me a book, To Train Up A Child, by Mike & Debbie Pearl. That book showed me how to batten down the hatches. 

Had I not gotten that book...
Had I not trusted the biblical methods of training in that book...
Had I been a wimp...
You would never have learned to control and channel your storms.

But you were taught how to maintain control and beauty during the storms.

Your person provides beautiful enjoyment for me, like a lovely seaside. I ask your thoughts on a topic, and you restore sanity by pointing me in a right direction. You blow sadness away as I watch you create a drama presentation. You guide me through storms with your piano playing. I've watched you unravel someone's confusion, like a ship's mast being unfurled, with your gift to teach. You release them to sail further than they could before. You are truly such a beautiful, solid place for me to rest in the beautiful seashore of your person. When there are storms you know the drill to secure all that is of value.

And you have your own ship now. You enjoy leaving the shore and pursuing treasures your Heavenly Father has left in your heart and spirit. You're quite adept in sailing your own vessel. Some days you co-captain with me. Some days you take MY helm and navigate for me. 

I'm so thankful for your faith in God, your strength of will, and the reality of your name; Naomi Morgan. 

Best typo ever. 


Friday, September 11, 2015

Feel the Love

When I divorced it affected a lot of people. It shocked and saddened more people than even I personally know. The ripples of who my decision hurt lapped to shores I didn't know existed. It most deeply hurt my children, then my parents and siblings, then my congregation, then my church community across my state, then friends and acquaintances across my country, and even into places across the ocean. It was a terrible realization to bear. 

In hindsight I'm able to see that much of my community wanted to spend time with me. They wanted to share my pain via conversations. They wanted to voice their own pain. And I wish I had been able to accommodate that need. I truly could not. 

Partly because I was too incapacitated in grief to properly function. But mostly because I recognized that I could not heal and recover by recounting my failure again and again, to friend after friend, with person after person. I found healing in attempting to forget those things which were behind, and by PRESSING toward whatever was before. 

I'd been a Bible study teacher for many years through my church, Souls Harbor, and through the years after the divorce, discussing God's healing Word was the only social interaction I enjoyed. I have learned to reintroduce other social engagements into my life, but still, I enjoy most a Bible study. 

Therefore, the people I'm with most often are people who want to incorporate the Bible into their lives in a social way outside of a church service. I teach Bible studies in homes where two or three single women come, I teach in homes where young families with babies, toddlers, and kids are romping and stomping in the background, I teach in a boutique where the owner is Christian and wants customers to be able to access God even in "just a store."

I feel like a new woman these days. I feel strong and healthy. It's not to say that the wounds I inflicted don't ache when seasons change. Much like an old man feeling the aches from a high school football injury. It happened. Holidays, weddings, various church events are like a cold winter that make the scar's presence known. But there's a setting that produces NOTHING but joy, strength, delight, and hope; Bible study.

I love it so much, and from the bottom of my heart I thank every friend who has helped me heal through the medicine of shared-scripture.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Your Kids' Interpretation Of Your Past

Abraham tried to pass off his wife, Sarah, as strictly his sister; twice. While it was true that she was his half-sister, he was purposefully being deceptive.

Isaac ended up doing the same thing.
Only it got worse.

Why would Isaac do this? It did not reap any benefits for his parents. In fact, it would seem to be a humiliating situation to be caught doing such a thing. Isaac definitely experienced for himself the shame of this decision. A PUBLIC PROCLAMATION of his lie was made!

It's possible that in relaying the story "of this crazy thing we did one time" to their son, they did not manage to present it in a negative light. 

I've seen parents inadvertently talk about their life before Christ in a way that makes it seem so fun, and glittery, and romantic to their kids.

I think it is very important to talk about our past with our children. They should know our mistakes. But I think we should be cautious and aware that we are not romanticizing the past in how we relay this information. 

As with Abraham to Isaac, the situation gets worse from generation to generation. Abraham was founding his lie on a partial truth; Sarah WAS his half-sister. For Isaac to repeat this behavior he had to straight-up LIE. In Abraham's case, God stepped in and intervened by telling the king to not touch Sarah. In Isaac's case, God didn't touch that mess. If the king hadn't seen them fondling each other in what they thought was a hidden place, there's no telling what disaster would have insued. And as mentioned before, when the king denounced Isaac, he did it loudly and to his entire nation. I'm not sure what your opinion is when a news outlet reveals a politician has been blatantly lying to the public about a matter, but I'm certain that's how the population felt about Isaac.

I have mad props for Abraham's endurance and faith. But I wish, for Isaac's reputation sake, that he'd have said, "Don't ever do that. Be honest and forthright and trust God to protect you, son."

Let us not giggle when we tell our kids about our foolishness while drunk or on drugs. Let us not high-five each other in conveying stories of narrow escapes. Let us soberly tell our children the damage we caused in our ignorant state. And let us wrap up those stories by telling them how thankful we are to not be living in that destructive place of darkness. Let's make sure they KNOW that because of the price Christ paid on Calvary to redeem us from our stupidity, that every generation henceforth will live in joyful humility and service to Jesus.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Ode To Morgan

Morgan packed her bags for college today. I have no complaints. I will be living with her. But because we've been so focused on the good we expect from the next four years, we weren't realizing what "else" it meant for us. 

it dawned on EACH of us as we were literally walking out the front door to drive her to college that her lifelong "home" will never be the same. Life will move on while she's away; decor, schedules, diet, traditions, routines. NOTHING will be identical when she comes home. We boo-hoo'd separately and sniffled a little together. I'm having a bit of a harder time pulling myself together than she is though.

Here's my very pitiful public therapy in the form of poetry:

From the moment I found you in my womb
I planned for you to be gone.
My arms held your body
But my lungs held my breath
Just newborn
But I knew you'd be gone

I stiffened my lip as we parted a kiss
I KNEW you'd be gone
But you came home well-rested
From the nap you had taken
We had dinner, and snuggled at home

Off to camps with kids
Independent and gone
I've known it all along
But I picked you up tired
And hoarse after choir
And drove you back to our home reinspired

Graduation came and down the aisle you went
But this time I knew the drill
They would change your tassel
But it was no big hassle
Because you ALWAYS came home to my thrill

Then it happened so suddenly
It took me by surprise
I'd been planning for this day
But I didn't realize
It was really IT
THAT time had come
When you packed your bag
And it wasn't psyche or fun

Today was the day
I had planned for so long
But not well enough
And it stopped my song

The breath that I held
When you were born
To not get too attached
To give you freedom to soar
The breath poured from my eyes
In the form of rain
And the life I've been in
Transformed into pain

My baby is gone!
It's every mom's fear
But to snatch you from this would be love insincere
It's what you were made for 
It's why we worked hard 
To make you ready
To take the world by storm

Know this, Grown Girl
Every tear I cry
Is a unique memory
That we made in our lives
Every book we read
Every palette for a bed
Every swing set we flew
Every cake candle we blew

These thoughts give me peace
They build my hopes 
They remind life is precious
And we had it better than most

I will cherish every moment
Of togetherness we've spent

My baby is gone
But you come home a friend