Day 9 – Beginning and End

Part of a song we have been singing in worship has been on my heart.

You, you are my first, You are my last, You are my future and my past…..

…You are the beginning and the end

I find myself humming and singing these words without even realizing it half the time. This morning it resonated deep within. Jesus, You are the beginning and the end of all things. You were here before the creation of the world and You will continue to be after it is not more. These are facts that I can rest on. This brings me comfort.

More than that, You are the beginning and the end of all things in my life. When I face a trial, I bring it to You first. I lay it before You and ask for Your guidance and protection. Generally, I get lost in the middle somewhere. I being to lose focus of where I am going, I struggle to not allow the anxiety to swallow me up, I cling to You. At the end of it all I know that You were there all along, that You are still there and I give You all the glory. At the end I am falling on my knees in thanksgiving and praise.

You are the first and the last. You surround me. Nothing can get in the way of You, Lord.

Many think that making Jesus your everything diminishes the other relationships in your life, this is not the case. Jesus magnifies and deepens everything, especially relationships.

My life was a shallow one compared to how I live today. Jesus has a way of peeling away layers that you didn’t even know were there. He is faithful, He is transforming and He is beautiful. When You invite Him in, You gain access to all that He is and there are no words to describe the power in that.

Christianity gets a bad wrap and for some good reasons. I would say that you cannot judge all the followers of Jesus based on those that chose to abuse His name. This applies to all cultures and races. I know that I once attacked the Christian faith and am so glad that Jesus loved me through it all. I am so happy that I gave Him a chance, that I walked into that church all those years ago. I am so thankful that I swallowed my pride and embraced His forgiveness.

I am still me and that will never change. I am flawed, I am a wreck and I have a long road ahead of me, but I have a peace that I have never experienced before. Jesus brings such contentment, such love and compassion that it is impossible not to pass that along to the people in your life. As you deepen your walk with our mighty Creator, you automatically deepen your relationship with the world around you. As Jesus transforms your heart, you no longer are capable of indifference and selfishness to the degree you once were. The key is allowing Him in to bring about that transformation. Only you can get in the way.

 

Day 8 – Friends

Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment. – Proverbs 18:1

Recent events have shown me that isolation, when feeling uncertain, achieves nothing.

I know for sure that I cannot be left to mull over the things that are bothering me. That is a recipe for disaster, it gives our enemy space to whisper lies and distract me. I need to bring it before the Lord, I need to seek council. God uses His people so I look to my Christian family for advice. I will ask them for prayer and then I bring their words before the Lord and ask Him to show me truth.

Isolation kills community, kills communion and breeds paranoia.  When I choose to cut myself off I am no longer able to hear words of wisdom. In am choosing to sit in the darkness.

Seeking other’s advice is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. It’s harder to put my pride aside and to allow myself to be vulnerable before another. Sometimes it’s physically difficult to do so.

Why should I worry about what others might think of me? Should they choose to judge me, well that’s their problem to deal with. I am a child of God, only Jesus can pass judgment and He taken my judgment upon Himself.

I only need to keep my eyes on Jesus and follow where He leads, speak to those He tells me to speak to and rely on Him in troubled times. Isolation is not an option.

Merely being in the presence of others does not guarantee that you’re not in isolation. I have walk through crowds and sat with friends while isolating myself and cutting myself off. Connecting takes effort and we must watch that we don’t shut others out.

Some days are easier than others. Some people are easier than others.

Choose to share your burdens as we are called to. Let people in, Jesus will keep you safe. Lay down your pride, push past the struggle, release the urge to build those walls. We are all part of a body, we must care for each other and function together. This cannot be done if we start isolating ourselves.

Your brothers and sisters love you dearly. Let your family care for you as you would care for them. Don’t take that blessing away from them. Let Christ work through them. Be in prayer and acknowledge where you are.

Choose life, choose community, choose healing and choose love. Don’t walk away from those that would help carry your burdens. Don’t cut off those that know you better than you know yourself at times.  Let us all push past the shame, the guilt, the pain, and choose to be vulnerable.

Love one another as Christ loves the church. Acknowledge that we need each other and that it doesn’t make us weak. See the strength in community and cherish it. In joy, in sorrow, I choose Christ and the family that I have found through Him.

Day 7 – Trust

Do you trust in all that you see, hear and feel? I believe I do at times. Other times I begin to see that it is all so temporary and always changing.

15 “For we are sojourners before You, and tenants, as all our fathers were; our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no hope. 16 “O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided to build You a house for Your holy name, it is from Your hand, and all is Yours. – 1 Chronicles 29:15-16

Today I am reminded to keep my eyes on eternity and not to be too distracted by the world around me. This will all fade away and be a distant memory. This is how I should be living every day.

I have been in a place of uncertainty and sadness these past few weeks. I have been wondering, wandering and struggling to understand. I know that God is at work and the He will never allow me to be brought anywhere other than where I am meant to be, but it has still been hard.

Tonight I was reminded that He is in control. He is so faithful and has brought all these “coincidence”s before me as a way of showing me that He is right there. This I know for sure. Today is the first day in a while that I have felt that peace sweeping over me. I was allowing anxiety to creep in where it does not belong.

I cannot say for sure that I will not be anxious over this again, but I can say that right now I am so thankful that Jesus is there for me. I am blown away by the way things all line up and point to Him. The timing of all things at once, from places that don’t seem to connect, and they all point to Him being in control.

My place in all this is to be obedient. Look for the work that is being done and trust in all the unknowns. Trust. Trust in the one who is eternal, not in the temporary things that are of this world. We are only passing through. This is not where we will land. This is not the end. This is the beginning.

Will I choose to get wrapped up and emotional over the things that will no longer be in the blink of an eye? No, I will choose to look past it all and see the bigger picture. I am a citizen of Heaven and a child of the Almighty Creator, the great I AM. He is for me in all things. He has protected me and guided me through so many things, how could I even think that He would not be in something so important to me?

His will is my focus. His plans are my desires. I crave to be lead by His Spirit, so why am I worried in the least?

Today I choose to trust more deeply. Today I choose to be thankful for the struggle so that I can grow in ways not possible otherwise. I lift it all up and lay it at the His feet. My Lord will always work my life to bring Him Glory and that is all that matters.

Day 6 – Connections

Today I am deep in thought about real human connections. Do you give it much thought? I don’t know that I generally do, outside of those I know and love on a regular basis. This article on a different view of drug addiction sparked my thoughts.

Reminded me of the same concept in the Bible.

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. – 1 Corinthians 12:12

We are separate, yet we are one. Do I live this way? To a degree, I believe I do, but I can take it deeper. You will often hear me tell my children to be aware of those around them, to not pass judgement as we never know what their lives have been like, to be willing to give to another that is in need. Know that we are all human beings and are all dealing with the difficulties of this world. Some, so much more than we could ever imagine.

14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 19 If they were all one member, where would the body be? – 1 Corinthians 12:14-19

These verses apply to the body of Christ as the church. As believers we are one in Him. I ask that we look at all the human race this way. We are all children of God and He has created each and every human being on purpose. Many turn away and refuse to accept Him as He is, but that does not change the fact that they are meant to.

Can we look past ourselves, past the surfaces of the people before us and see that we are all connected? Can we see that we are meant to love one another? Can we stop causing unnecessary pain? Isn’t this life hard enough?

20 But now there are many members, but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; 23 and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable,24 whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25 so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. – 1 Corinthians 12:20-27

Can we care for others in the same manner we care for ourselves? Better than we care for ourselves? Can we stop telling people that we don’t need them? Can we let go of that fierce independence we have come to envy in others? Do you see that needing another is not a weakness but a necessity? Don’t let past pains keep you from living the way we are meant to live. Keeping people out is not self-preservation, it is self-destruction.

Where can we start? With ourselves. Take the time to examine your own hurts, your own inability to trust, your biases and ask yourself why. Allow those old wounds to be healed. Let Jesus into your life so that He can shine light into those dark places, they are much less scary when He is by your side. Let that healing overflow and touch all those you come into contact with. Don’t fear what they will think or how weird it may seem. Let’s put all that aside and be real. Let’s function the way we are meant to.

Find a real connection today.

Day 5 – Surrender

He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. … Genesis 22:2-14

Can you imagine surrendering to this degree? Am I the only one that reads this and flinches at the thought of out great Creator asking this of me? How would I respond? I am sure I would falter.

How can I have a faith as great as Abraham? How do I get to the point that I follow Him no matter what? How can I get past myself to that point? I know for sure that He always has my best interest at heart. So why do I waiver when I hear Him speak to my heart?

I am weak, I am emotional, I am so very human. This world blinds me, I am so easily distracted. The funny part is that so many will look at me and tell me how spiritual I am. Sure, I am always looking to deepen my relationship with Jesus, this does not take the challenges away.

The further I travel on the road Jesus lays before me, the harder and easier it becomes. It’s easier for me to know that He is with me always, it is easier to release the chains I have allowed for so long and it is easier to turn to Him in all things. The challenges are always right there too. I struggle moving forward at times. I struggle with the unknown and uncertainties when He is silent. I fight with my emotions as the cloud my sight and prevent me from hearing the Truth.

Surrender, oh how I want to surrender all.

Our Lord did not walk with the well respected of the times. He did not choose to teach those that had it all together. He chose to be side by side with those that fell short often. He looked past all that and looked right into their hearts. That is key. The heart is what He wants.

I lay it all out. I want to stop hiding when I struggle. I want to let it all out and not feel ashamed and self-conscious. My God knows my heart and that is all that matters. I cannot hold onto regret and shame, that only gets in the way of the work Jesus is doing in me. I must put my pride aside and care not what judgments man could bring. It matters not.

I surrender this life, this heart, this foolish girl turns it all over to You and You alone. I pray that the Holy Spirit fill me and to bring healing in the broken places. We all fall short and we all must extend the grace that is extended to us.

Day 4 – That Girl

That little girl still sits within. She is often silent, but always right under the surface. There are times when I believe that I am no longer her, and there are times when I feel like I am only her.

The girl that struggles with her parents abandoning, her choices to use sex, drugs and alcohol to numb the pain, the girl that wants to curl up and disappear. The girl that wonders why she was even born.

The woman forgets that she is loved and cherished by the almighty Creator and was brought to this world with a purpose. She slips into that place of insecurity and wonders why it’s so hard to move forward. The emotions threaten to engulf her.

How do we heal those deepest places? Why must it always be a process? If Jesus healed a woman who just reached out to touch his garment, then He can certainly heal me. Do I not believe deeply enough? Is my trust not complete? Does my pride get in the way? I am sure it is all these things.

Anxiety, guilt and shame have no place in this life. They are so heavy to carry, why can’t I just put them down and walk away forever? The space they use up in me is precious space that could be filled with love, peace and hope. I don’t want to carry this baggage around anymore.

Instead of dropping the baggage that weighs me down, I choose to pretend it’s not there at all. Can everyone see it? Why do I turn a blind eye? It takes it’s toll. It is exhausting.

Instead, I feel as though I remove one thing at a time out. I rest a moment, sit before my Jesus and we go through together. He tells me to leave it all there, I want to so badly. Instead I  pour it all out before Him and slowly begin to pack them back away. Maybe I leave one or two things behind, maybe I allow Him to free me a little. I can see how sad He is as I repack all that baggage and take that burden on again. I know it’s not mine to carry, I know how His heart aches as I walk away.

He loves me despite it all. His love never changes. I wish I could love myself the way He loves me. Maybe one day I will. To me it seems we have a lot to go through and that it will never be done, but it is done. Jesus has told us that it is done. He came and saved our very souls. He came so that these burdens would be no more. He offers for me to walk in freedom. I only need to be willing to leave it all behind.

Jesus, today I ask that You show me why I insist on carrying these burdens when You have already forgiven me. Show me how I can love myself the way You love me. Show me how You see me. Let me see through Your eyes today. Thank You for being so gentle, so kind and so very patient with me. Thank You for coming into my deepest and darkest places to show me how You heal all things. Thank You for being so faithful and never leaving my side. You are amazing.

Day 3 – Perspective

Perspective is a funny thing. The lenses of life I choose to look through color everything I come into contact with. My perspective determines how I feel, act and comprehend. How do you perceive all you see?

I generally try to see all sides of a situation and have the ability to see other’s perspectives, for the most part. Although I may be able to gain a perspective other than my own, my own still gets in the way. I still struggle with letting go and accepting other’s points of view without trying to get them to see mine. Do you struggle with this too?

I also find that there are times when I am unable to gain a proper perspective and then assume that the person next to me cannot either. An example that comes to mind is a conversation I had with a few ladies the other day. We were commenting on being the passenger of a vehicle in the rain while the driver is not using the wipers as we would. I have experienced this with my husband so many times. It makes me nervous. I can’t see out of my window, why aren’t you using the wipers right now? How could you possibly see? He will assure me that he can see fine and asks me to just trust him. I squirm at times! But really, why do I need to see? I am just the passenger, I have no control over the vehicle we are in.

This reminds me of my relationship with Jesus. How often I have gone against His will for my life and chosen to take over the wheel, only to realize that He had it all under control and I should have just sat back and trusted in Him.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. – Psalm 139:13

I am here on purpose and with a purpose, this should be my daily perspective. God is in control and He will delivery me safely. I do not need to be able to see the road clearly at all times, I only need to trust.

The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? – Psalm 27:1

Much in the way that I need to trust that my husband will always keep me safe, I must trust that our Lord and Savior will that much more.

The roads we travel in this life can be full of strife, peril and uncertainty. I choose to look through the lenses that Jesus provides. The ones that allow me to see that God is in control. All I need to do is relax, sit back and buckle up. When the road gets rough and I can’t see what lies ahead, I can rest in the knowledge that I am safe, I am loved, I am protected. There is no need to fear the unknown. Is anything ever really known?

Choose to see your day today as a journey for Christ. Let Him lead your way and show you the reasons you are here in this place this very moment.

 

Five Hundred Words – Day 2

A song that has been on my mind since church on Sunday:

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              “Where You Go I Go”

Where You go I go
What You say I say
What You pray I pray
What You pray I pray[repeat]

Jesus only did what He saw You do
He would only say what he heard You speak
He would only move when He felt You lead
Following Your heart, following Your spirit

How could I expect to walk without You
When every move that Jesus made was in surrender
I will not begin to live without You
For You only are worthy, You are always good

You are always good

Where You go I go
What You say I say God
What You pray I pray
What You pray I pray

Though the world sees and soon forgets
We will not forget who you are
And what you’ve done for us,
what you’ve done for us
This song reminds me that I want to be where God is, to be more like Jesus, to follow the path He lies before me. When I go where He goes, I can trust that it’s going to be good. This brings me comfort.
When I pray, it’s important that I ensure that I am seeking God’s will in all things. He wants me to be happy, this I know for sure. Often it feels like the way we’re heading is not one that will end in happiness, that is where faith comes in. Past experiences have shown me that God is always on my side. I have tasted and I have seen all that He desires for us all.
I am so.thankful for the experiences He has brought me through for now I know that following Him in obedience week be fruitful. Surrendering is so hard. I struggle with this multiple times a day. Putting my pride down, stopping long enough to hear Him and letting Him lead, these are my goals.
I don’t ever want to forget who Jesus is and all He has done for us all. Such love, such passion, such sacrifice. I only have a glimpse of what it all means and it blows my mind. How could I ever question where He brings me? How could I ever question His motives? His love? He laid down His life for me.
Thank You Jesus. Thank You for being so patient with this child of Yours. I don’t deserve You, but You are here with me anyway. I don’t want to wonder why anymore. I want to accept it and cherish it always.
Lead the way Lord and I will follow. I am seeing how twisted I have been and thank You for showing me Your Truth. Please continue to broaden my perspective and soften this heart of mine. Let me look to You in all this,  big and small. You are so kind, gentle and ever faithful. Teach me to be the same.
In the loving name of Jesus, I pray these things.

Five Hundred Words – day 1

Five Hundred Words Starts Today

Today is the day that I begin to write five hundred words a day. Why would I do this you ask? Well I am a writer. This is something I have enjoyed all my life. This is how I best express myself. This is where my heart opens and my spirit flows.

Through my days I have had times of writing fervently day after day and sharing with all that would take the time to read. There have also been times where I have not written for what has felt like forever. Writing has always allowed me to be me.

I have written in notebooks, published poems and have written many a blog. Over a year ago I settled on this blog and promised myself that I would not let this one go. I have chosen to share my walk and want to be transparent. My hope has always been to build a community where we can all see that we all struggle and that we are not alone. I want to be a testament to the work that Jesus can accomplish is a stubborn, over analytical mess like me.

Some weeks I post a lot, some weeks I don’t post anything at all.. I find that I have no real rhythm to my writing and want that to change. Writing stirs up emotion, gets my juices flowing, and allows me to connect with the Holy Spirit as I open myself up to Him. It’s a bonus that people read what I write and get something out of it. I am so thrilled when I hear that the words I sent out into the world made some small difference in someone’s day. I want Jesus to speak through me. I want others to know that they are not alone. We all struggle and we all need to lean on each other.

So why one thousand words a day? Well, I heard a write say that he makes it a point to write one thousand word each day, no matter what. His words stuck with me for some time now and I am going to attempt something similar. I will begin with five hundred words as a goal and see how it goes. I don’t want to set myself up for failure and think this is a fair place to begin.

Some days I hope that the writing will be Scripture inspired and filled with the Spirit. I cannot promise that this will always be the case. The goal is to get myself into the habit of exercising my passion each day and allow it to become a healthy habit. I have decided to post each day on this blog as a way to be accountable. I was not going to do this right away, I fear I will fail. I also know that I cannot allow fear to rule my decisions and so I am posting my first attempt right now. When something comes up over and over again, I have learned to follow and see where it goes.

I thank you all for being on this journey with me and would love to hear from you. What is your passion? What makes you feel alive and connected? Do you make time for it each day?

 

Can You Relate?

I truly love this life. It’s hard, it’s messy, it’s painful and I wouldn’t change it. My early years were full of love, abandonment, pain, healing, drugs, alcohol and destruction. I led a hard life for quite a while and then I lived in the regret when I came out of it. Can any of you relate?

When I was in those hard years, I was proud of it, although not proud of the circumstances I would find myself in. I had secrets. I was a wrecking ball and did not care who I trampled while fulfilling my current desired. I was selfish and greedy. I felt entitled and thought I was strong. Can any of you relate?

I was dead against Christianity and the hypocrisy that came along with it. I threw many a Bible away and actively sought to challenge these so-called Christians before me. Most Christians I came across were shallow and were not actual followers of Jesus. They could not answer my questions, they fumbled when I confronted them, they did not know what it meant to be a Christian. Christian was a term they just threw out there, empty and meaningless. Others were knowledgeable and judgmental. These were the ones that showed me why I would never want to be a Christian. Fake, narrow, shallow, manipulative. Can any of you relate?

What about those that walk around pretending that life is perfect now that they have Jesus? Just read the Bible, go to church, tithe appropriately and swear your allegiance to us and all the pain of this world will disappear. These scared me most of all. I swore off Christianity. I believed there was a Jesus that walked this earth, I couldn’t dispute history. I had no interest in being that fake, that disillusioned, that blind. There is no escape from the harshness of this world, I have tried. Can any of you relate?

Jesus has a funny way of showing up when you want nothing to do with Him. When I look back at my story, I can see how He was trying to get my attention all along. He was right there with me, every step of the way. When I first came to believe in the Living Savior, I was ashamed. I knew how I treated Christianity, I knew how stupid it would sound to those around me……Melissa is a Christian? Her? Seriously? Was the church struck by lightning when she entered? Do they know the kind of life she has led? Would they still accept her if they did? Can any of you relate?

Not only did everyone I ever knew think and say these things, I did too. Was I crazy? Why would this Jesus dude want anything to do with me? I was a hot mess and breaking all the rules. How could I possibly clean my life up enough to do this thing called Christianity? Can any of you relate?

Today I can say that I am a child of God and a follower of Jesus. I have learned to push past the fakes, the hypocrites, the judgmental people and the doubt. I stopped looking to people and submitted to Jesus. You see, nothing else matters. Words, intentions, pasts and pain mean nothing. Jesus loves every single person who ever existed and who will come into existence. No exceptions. None. Everyone is able to be real before our mighty Creator, all we need to do is give Him a chance. Be open, be real, be accepting. Let Him love you. Life will not magically be pain-free, it will probably be harder at times, but in different ways. He does make it easier to deal with the pains of this broken world. He offers a peace that words cannot describe. He breathes life into the most broken of lives. He truly saves your very soul and offers an eternity in His presence. I hope you can relate.