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Monday, February 27, 2017

A purpose for living?

In my last blog, I revealed an intimate picture of a God who isn’t distant and uncaring, but whose heart beats for you. 

This same God desires to give you a purpose for living. He not only wants you to thrive here in the land of the living, but more wonderfully, even beyond death.

That’s hard to picture sometimes in the here and now. I’ve had a painful past and have the scars to prove it. I experience pain and sorrow now. Just because I am a Believer doesn’t mean I’m exempt from that. 

You may come up and ask, “How are you Deb?”. I honestly can’t say, “Completely satisfied and overflowing with joy!”  

To be clear, I have a “joy unspeakable” deep within that cannot be shaken. I have peace with God, through Jesus’ work on the cross. God’s spirit dwells within me. He has lavished His grace on me and I am a very blessed woman.

Yet I live in a broken world. Life can be difficult and messy. It can be downright painful at times. But there is an awesome, powerful truth in all this and I want to share it with you:

 And face it—if there’s no resurrection for Christ, everything we’ve told you is smoke and mirrors, and everything you’ve staked your life on is smoke and mirrors. Not only that, but we would be guilty of telling a string of barefaced lies about God, all these affidavits we passed on to you verifying that God raised up Christ—sheer fabrications, if there’s no resurrection.

If corpses can’t be raised, then Christ wasn’t, because he was indeed dead. And if Christ weren’t raised, then all you’re doing is wandering about in the dark, as lost as ever. It’s even worse for those who died hoping in Christ and resurrection, because they’re already in their graves. If all we get out of Christ is a little inspiration for a few short years, we’re a pretty sorry lot. But the truth is that Christ has been raised up, the first in a long legacy of those who are going to leave the cemeteries.
1 Corinthians 15;13-20 The Message Bible

Do you see the passage I marked bold? “If all we get out of Christ is a little inspiration for a few short years, we’re a pretty sorry lot.”

Is this all there is to life? To live approximately 80 years and poof, die. The end? 

As a believer, is it all about stamping my ticket to heaven? I’m on my way there and that’s all that matters? Just passing time until I die? 

No, a thousand times no! Look at what Jesus said to His disciples when in a gush of faith they said, “We believe that You came from God.” 

Jesus answered them, “Do you finally believe? In fact, you’re about to make a run for it—saving your own skins and abandoning me. But I’m not abandoned. The Father is with me. I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” John 16:32-33 The Message Bible

In a few short hours, Jesus would experience the cross. But the cross was not the end. He did overcome, not just for Himself, but for us. If there was not a resurrection, we would be a most miserable people and life would be meaningless. 

But thank God, He did rise victorious! And this has powerful ramifications for us if we would believe. It means that we don’t have to live in despair. Even through the difficulties, we will be unshakable, assured and at peace just like Jesus promised. It means that His presence and power will be at work in and through us, even in pain and suffering. In this broken and messed up world we have an abiding, unwavering hope. In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Romans 8:37

I think 2 Corinthians 4 says it so well: 

You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken.....So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever. 
The Message Bible

There's so much more to life than you know. Without Jesus, you are missing out on Real Life. Because He is Life Everlasting. Life in the here and now, and beyond the grave. 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Who is this God?

You know, oftentimes I have preconceived ideas about people I meet. I judge them from face value and determine things that in all likelihood aren’t true. It takes effort and time to get to know people. Kind of like a onion, we peel back the onions layer by layer until we see that deep down we all struggle with the same stuff and carry much the same baggage.

I think we do the same thing with God. What are your preconceived ideas about Him? 

Is God unapproachable and distant? Does He care about me? Do I need to go through a bunch of rituals and follow a slew of rules to gain His love? 

I recently read a powerful verse in the tiny book of Zephaniah that hopefully causes us to rethink any ideas we have about God.

The Lord your God is in your midst,
    a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
    he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing. 
Zephaniah 3:17

A picture comes into my mind of a parent holding a child. Quieting it’s cries, singing a lullaby and just holding it close. It’s a intimate scene. 

When anxieties and fears harass me, when I’m at a low ebb, when I feel rejected and unloved, I can crawl into His arms and allow Him to hold me close. I can let go and know peace, security and a strong love. He holds me tight through it all. He quiets me with His love. 

Be still and know that I am God. I’ve got you and will not let go. I am enough for you. 

He is always there. That’s never the question. The question is...”Will I go after Him? Will I let Him love me? Will I let Him close? 

Sadly, sometimes I will muddle along until I finally go to Him. 

But what especially blows my mind is this idea that He rejoices over me. OVER. ME. How can this be? 

I’m so quick to scrutinize myself, to pore over shortcomings and weaknesses. And here He looks at me in this way? No words people. How do you explain this? It’s a wonder to be loved like this. 

You can push Him away, curse His name, and even shake your fist at Him. Hey, He went through much worse on the cross. He still loves you with a relentless love. He’s still as close as your breath. and will come running when you finally give up and allow Him to love you. 

When you do, I guarantee you, sure enough as my name is Deb that you’ll finally find your soul mate. Cause He is the only One who is. 

You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to You, Your face Lord, do I seek. Psalm 27:8

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Broken Vessel

The Israelites were desperate for deliverance. Exodus 2:23  tells us they were groaning for it. Crying out in prayer. The Egyptians were unrelenting slave masters.

In verse 24 it says God heard their groaning. God saw and remembered His promise. He knew. And He had just the person to lead them out. 

This man He picked? A fugitive. A murderer. But also familiar with the Egyptian royal courts. Adopted by a princess. Now fallen out of favor and a obscure shepherd on the far side of the desert. 

This was the man handpicked by God Almighty to save His people? When encountered by God at the burning bush, Moses didn’t even want the job. He argued with God. He cringed in doubt and fear. 

But he humbled himself and God used him powerfully. He was the answer for the Israelites. 

Moses has always been one of my favorite people in the Bible. I guess because I’ve struggled much the same way. We tend to think of Moses as this self-confident, fearless and assertive guy. But you know, when you read Exodus chapters 3-4 you may think otherwise. 

He spends all of chapter 3 and part of 4 arguing with God about why he can’t do it. In fact he says, “I’m not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to me, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Finally he even says, Oh, my Lord please send someone else.” 

Yea, I see myself here. The Word once again is a mirror, shining it’s light into my heart. 

The Word tells me that I am a Temple of the Lord walking around. He lives in me by His Spirit. But yet there seems to be a paradox sometimes. I am weak and insecure at times, I certainly am “slow of speech” too. Doubts can flare up. I feel rather inadequate. 

Why me Lord? Why did You choose me? 

I don’t have the answer for that. But like Moses, I just have to give myself, flaws and all, and know He is enough. He is powerful enough to shine through my weaknesses, my brokenness. Hopefully you will see more of Him, less of me. See His beauty outshine my flaws. 

The bottom line is that He came for broken people. The ones crying out for freedom and deliverance. He hears the groaning of your heart. And He hears. He cares. 

And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

In This World....

It had been a wonderful time on the mountain. A most intimate moment with Jesus. They had been ministered to, they rejoiced and saw heavenly things that filled them with wonder. 

How badly they wanted to remain longer here. Soak up the sweet presence of God and ponder upon this experience. 

Never-the-less it was time to leave. They descended glowing still, their hearts full. It was back to reality. And what a ugly thing reality can be. 

They came upon an unpleasant scene. The disciples who remained behind were involved in a fracas. They appeared to be distressed and confused. People were yelling,  pointing fingers, jostling bodies pushed in anger. A group of religious teachers were right in the middle of the melee sneering with accusations. 

Standing off to one side was a father and a young boy who watched sadly. Shoved aside and forgotten in this drama. 

Now I can’t speak for you, but I would probably be tempted to turn around and climb up that mountain to hold onto what warm feelings I have left. Life can be rather difficult at times and it seems much better to escape the ugliness than to bear down and face it. 

Jesus did more than just face it. He rose above the negative atmosphere calmed the situation and touched that father and his son. He was proactive rather than checking out. 

Jesus warned us we would have days like these. “In me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

This life and all that goes with it can be quite overwhelming at times. I get tired of the struggles and conflicts. After a while my soul gets weary, I want to escape. Why can’t the mountaintop experiences remain a little longer? How can I keep my mind on higher things when I’m facing ugly realities that pull me down? 

I believe our mindset is the key in how we handle the rough spots. If we are already defeated in our minds, then it stands to reason we will  be defeated. What if a football team comes out of the locker room with their heads down, bogged down in the disappointment of their last loss?  What if they had listened to the press coverage about their opponents, “This team can’t be beat, the won’t gain a yard against their defense...”  What if they listened to coverage about themselves? “They played horrible in their last two games. There’s just too many key injuries that will hinder them. They can’t win this game...”  

I highly doubt they will play well in this game. They are already defeated before they hit the field. How can you face life’s challenges with a mindset like this?  

What are you confessing to yourself? Does everything look so bleak? Are you proclaiming defeat? A negative mindset can surely bog you down. 

Perhaps we need to change our mindset. Does this mean we are blind to reality? No, it means we choose to see the truth. Truth says: I can overcome the world because He overcame it. I can do all things in Christ, because He gives me strength. I am more than a conqueror through Him who loves me. His divine power has given me everything I need for life and godliness. These powerful sentences are in the Word. 

Can’t God work even in the midst of the rough spots? Can we bask in His presence in the middle of chaos? Is it impossible for God? I believe He can, and I believe that I can overcome. And it all starts in my mind. If it’s all gloom and doom there, then I guarantee that negativity will reign in my world. 

We can be proactive rather than just reacting. We can be a powerful witness. It’s your choice. If you want to remain in the pit of negativity, then you will. You don’t have to remain there. Choose to see truth and confess it. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Entrusting my heart

Thirty years. That is how long I’ve been married. Hard to believe it’s been that long.  February 14, 1987 was the day I began my journey into marriage. 

Entering my twenties, I just couldn’t see myself getting married. I was carrying around a lot of baggage and deep scars. The Lord had begun a healing process in me at that time, nevertheless I didn’t see myself as good marriage material. 

But also a deeper question lingered. Could I entrust my heart to him? Every man up to that point had hurt me deeply. I had been through abuse. I was taking a big risk giving myself to him. 

So when we starting getting serious, instead of getting giddy with excitement, I guess you could say I was a bit hesitant. I remember one evening standing in the glow of a beautiful sunset praying about my upcoming decision. Just feeling so unsure and scared to take the plunge. 

I will never forget the peace and rest the Lord gave, while I gazed at the sunset. It was one of those turning points in my life. 

I did take the risk to love and to be loved. Did I still get hurt? Did the old scars flare up? Did my husband let me down? I think you know the answers . Yes, yes and yes. 

I had to learn in little and big ways to entrust my heart to him. I had to let him love me. He was a safe place. He saw the good, the bad and the downright ugly. I am a very blessed woman to have him. 

We journeyed together through tough seasons, ups and downs, awesome times...just life. 

I began another journey ten years before my marriage. At that time in my life, I was a mess. The abuse I went through left me shattered. Out of protection, I closed myself in. I was just surviving. 

I entrusted myself to someone then. Someone I had known since I was a toddler. This person took me in and changed my life forever. I gave Him my shattered, torn, scarred heart. I entrusted it to Him. 

He tenderly took it and began to heal the pain, began to show me a better way to live. Really live and not just survive. 

I began to walk with Him, began to trust Him with struggles, doubts, and fears. We walked together through deep valleys, mountaintops, miles and miles of uncertain territory. Sometimes He had to carry me. We did life together. 

He was constant, and trustworthy. He satisfied my hungry, longing soul. He gave me strength, peace, rest, and a inner joy. 

I’m sure by now you probably guess who it is....

Jesus, my wonderful, sweet Jesus. My all in all. What would I be without Him? Where would I be? Scary to think about. 

Kind of like the turtle on a fence post. If you see one, you know someone put it there. It didn’t get there by itself obviously. I would not be where I am or be what I am without Jesus’ touch in my life. 

You see, bottom line, it’s a relationship, not religion. You can entrust your heart your life to Him. 

Human relationships are awesome. I am so blessed to have many wonderful friendships, and family. It’s how we are wired and created to be. 

Yet far above the human ones is the Divine connection. You have a hole, a vacuum in your soul that can only be filled by God. You’ve tried to fill that hole with so many things and people. The yearning doesn’t cease. 

My heart burns, yearns within me and only Jesus can satisfy and fill that emptiness. This is my passion, what drives me. 

Know Jesus, know life.

You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Rambling Thursdays

On today’s Rambling Thursday’s blog, I’m talking hair, yes hair. The fascinating subject of hair perked my interest after I saw a  picture of a sad soul who had a rather awful bad hair day. 

This poor woman apparently mistook building foam for hair gel and ended up in the emergency room. She took helmet hair to a new level. I’ve had my own hair mishaps over the years, but thankfully I’ve never ended up in the emergency room. 

But the lengths we women go through to have good hair! I remember what my mom went through with the hair rollers and hair pins. She had one of those bee hive styles and even had a little wig to cap it off. She spent a lot of time on that hair! 

Sometimes it seems as though things haven’t changed much. If you think about it, we do spend a lot of money and time on our hair. I often thought that if I came into a fortune, I’d hire a hair stylist who would do my hair everyday. No more hair concerns then! 

We spend money on flat irons, curling irons, blow dryers, pastes, gels, shampoos, conditioners, and hairspray. Not to mention carving out valuable time for hair appointments. Of course it’s worth it. I’ll fork out the money. I’ll sacrifice an hour for a highlight. I want to look good. The problem is that my hair doesn’t want to cooperate.  

You see I’m one of those who have very thick, wavy hair. Back in the eighties I permed it. Why, I don’t know. It’s what my friends did and it looked great on them. I looked like a poodle. I’ve tried letting it grow, picturing soft flowing locks. Instead I looked rather wooly. Now I keep it short. 

It has to be thinned out every month. And I do mean every month. I remember fondly a smart aleck kid telling me I had helmet hair after I delayed my next appointment.  Don’t tell me words don’t stick to you. I remember and take them to heart! 

It can take on a life of it’s own, if left to itself. So I keep it trimmed short. I gaze longingly at the short hair styles on Pinterest and wish I could look like that. My beautician can certainly come close. I love going to her, I leave with great hair, but alas after 24 hours it’s back to “blah”. 

I figure that there is a two week span it looks pretty good. It behaves and lays just right. I don’t have to fuss over it much. But then it gets heavy and troublesome. I go back and get a pound trimmed off again. 

The summer months are the worst. Humidity is my nightmare. My hair transforms to fluff and becomes uncontrollable. No amount of flat iron use controls it. I have to resort to blobs of gel and hope for the best. 

Anyway before I leave, I’ll show you what has worked for me. 

Shampoo and Conditioner: L'oreal Power Moisture

The website says, “New & improved Power Moisture Shampoo. Formula powered by Hyaluronic weightlessly quenches and softens dry locks, sealing in a clean feel with no weigh-down.” 

Now I don’t know what Hyalouronic means or what it supposed to do, but I like it. I does quench my dry locks, cleanses, and it doesn’t weigh it down. 

Previously I had used Pantene for years. I had a beautician advise me it was the worst hair product EVER. She recommended L’oreal. I haven’t regretted it. I’ve been very happy with it. 

Hairgel: TRESemme'

The website says, “If you need staying power for that must-have runway look, consider hair gel the answer to your styling needs. Maximum hold, resistance to humidity, and the added benefit of lasting shine: what's not to love?”

Oh yes, what’s not to love! I’m not planning on strutting down any runways soon, but I will say it’s wonderful for muddling through 90% humidity. It works girls. It’s doesn’t have the tenacity of building foam, but it holds! 

Hairpaste: Aquage

The website says, Powerful texturizing product combines the flexibility of a wax with the hold of a hairspray. Non-greasy, tacky formula lets you direct hair with fingers to create lasting texture with a satin finish.

The key word here is fingers. I put a pea size dot on my fingers, style my hair and Boom! No curling iron, flat iron...just my fingers. Well...almost anyway. 

I bought it at the Beauty shop after my lovely beautician recommended it. Yes it does cost more than hair gel. I use it in the cooler months. I found that even hair paste is ineffective against humidity. And probably building foam as well. 

So in your quest for great hair, I wish you soft, flowing locks. Let nothing stop you in your quest! 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Winter of the Soul

I took a walk in the winter woods. The woods have a unique beauty in winter. The branches stripped of leaves, the undergrowth dead and snow coats the ground. You see deeper in the woods. Previously unknown features such as boulders, hills, fallen logs and ramshackle structures dot the landscape. 

The exposed trees are beautiful. Especially the white Sycamores. Ghost trees are what the Indians called them. I so enjoy a walk in the winter woods. It’s quiet and it certainly calms my spirit. 

I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

I’ve been feeling stripped and brittle like a winter tree. Exposed, vulnerable, weak. Life can do that to you sometimes. We can do it to ourselves. Ever feel like you are just a hot mess? Yea, me too. 

Yet even in the dark, bitter winter, there is something stirring. One day in a few months life will begin again. There is hope. And yes there is hope for you and me. I think there is a new beginning, a reset if you will, for us. Stay with me here. 

I’ve been thinking about King Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles 29 who opened up the Temple that had been shut up for decades by his father, King Ahaz who was wicked and encouraged the people to turn away from God.

The doors were opened, and the filth cleaned out. Well, I am a temple and I have some “stuff” that needs cleaned out. Bad attitudes, ugly mindsets, laziness, anger... the whole lot of it. I need the fresh breath of the Spirit to blow in me. I need the fruit of the Spirit to grow in me. 

I don’t enjoy feeling weak and vulnerable. I like to feel strong, able and in control. But I wonder if experiencing this winter season might help keep my perspective in the right spot. Eyes off myself, lean on Jesus all the harder. and keep my mind in the truth of God’s word. 

I’m rather weak, but He is strong. He makes up the slack. He blesses what I give. I sit here and offer my words, and it is enough. I know by faith, He will touch you through my words. 

Are you weak and brittle? Are you a hot mess? Don’t check out, my beloved friend. It doesn’t feel good. You want to sit on the sidelines of life. I get it. But. Don’t. 

Allow Him to open your temple doors. Let Him clean out the trash that’s accumulated. The most important thing is that He has our hearts. We have His favor. That our hearts are right. 

In this winter season, let’s dig in deep. Let’s get our hearts right. Be still and know He is God. Growth will come in time and you’ll be thriving once again. 

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