It has now been seven years since I started this blog. How quickly time goes by! We are many members but we are one in the body of Christ. Therefore you do not journey alone! Hopefully through this site you will be encouraged by the fact that many things you are going through in your own walk, others are going through (or have gone through) as well. Sometimes we think we are "going through things alone." But we are not. God said that "He would Never Leave Nor Forsake Us." (Hebrews 13:5) and that "There is Nothing New Under The Sun." (Ecclesiastes 1:9). No man is an island. It's easy to forget that. May the words in this blog help you to think, encourage you in whatever spiritual state you are in and may the Lord use them to help us to grow in Him! He is the Author and Finisher of our faith!

I don’t want any readers to think that I am “promoting” being a prodigal. I definitely am not. But what I am hoping to do – is to encourage those of us who either have had or are currently experiencing a hard time in our walk to be honest about it. Personal conviction is a powerful thing, especially if you truly love the Lord. I think that sometimes the Body of Christ critiques and judges to the point where the person who is at the other end of that pointing finger feels ostracized, alienated and alone. I don't think that that is what Jesus intended. When I read through my Bible - I see a firm yet gentle restoration that Jesus ministered to those around Him. Look at John 21:15-19. When Peter who was at an all time low point in his walk - he was firmly, yet lovingly restored by Jesus. He didn't tear him down, or yell or make him feel any worse then he already did. He spoke to him lovingly and gently - and in doing so, Peter was able to repent and minister in a much more powerful, humble and confident way and it became one of the largest ministries ever.

Please note that I am only a vessel, my calling - to write. I dedicate this blog to the Lord and ask that He use it to reach out and touch whoever needs a special, loving, personal touch from Him. My hope is that the Holy Spirit allows you to see Him through the words (and not me). We go through things so that we can extend our right hand of fellowship behind us to assist and help someone else. Our Bible is the same today, as it was yesterday as it will be tomorrow. (I am far from perfect and do not profess to have all the answers...) but the good news is - Our Heavenly Father does! His love, forgiveness, grace and mercy is real!Nothing you are experiencing in your walk comes as a surprise to Him! May He be glorified through this blog and may God bless you at whatever stage in your walk you are in!~

I am a Breast Cancer Survivor

I am a Breast Cancer Survivor
I was diagnosed with early stage triple negative breast cancer on June 24th, 2010 - I have been cancer free for 7 years now. It was only a chapter in my life - NOT my life, but the impact is one that has changed my life forever. Its important for women to know that 80% of the breast cancer diagnosis come from women who don't have a history of it in their family (My family didn't). Early detection is the key. For more information please click on the pink ribbon above. It could save your life.


November 10, 2013

The Worries

The worries woke me up this morning... They are the ugly black creatures that wait until the wee hours of morning to harass you and wake you up from your sleep whispering in your ear... "How are you going to resolve this problem or this one.... or this one... or this one..."  They steal your peace and fill you with fear and well - worry.  The more of an ear you give them, the louder and more aggressive they become.  Their biggest trick is to taunt you, often times repeating the same thing over and over again..."You have to take care of A,B,C - but you can't... Because all you have is this... How are you going to do it? You can't.. There will be ramifications... You are in trouble..."  They get louder and louder because they are "faith drowners."  If you listen to the worries, the voice of your faith becomes a whisper until it blows out like a fire that becomes nothing more than an ember and if you're not careful they can totally blow the fire of your faith out until all that is left is smoke.

Worries  can only become as big as you allow them to get.  If you give them your undivided attention they grow, bigger and bigger and bigger!  They make your heart palpitate and ruin any enjoyment you might get from a day.  They drown out everything around you until you are consumed with them. Like a tornado they can destroy everything good in your life.  Wiping out family moments, or enjoying the small things in life because all you can see is the darkness of the worries and the more you give them room - pretty soon they are all you can focus on. All you can see is their blackness, they choke out anything good around you and rob you of the simple things in life. Their job is to steal from you - peace, joy, love, contentment, happiness.  They fill you with stress, heart palpitations, health issues and sometimes turn you into a person full of bitterness instead of one of faith.

How do you combat the worries when they come flooding into your mind? Sometimes having someone to share them with helps to make them shrink down into the little itty bitty things they really are. Two heads are better than one, sharing your worries helps sometimes helps put them in perspective. 

The most powerful slayer of worries, is the Word of God.  The best way to combat the worries is to quote scriptures out loud.  Sometimes the louder you quote your promises, the bigger your faith becomes and the worries shrink.  Lift EACH worry up to the light of your Heavenly Father in prayer, because He is BIGGER than ANY worry that can harass you.  How to handle worries are even addressed in the bible:

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more than food? And the body more than clothes? (Matthew 6:25)

"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?" (Luke 12:26)

"I sought the Lord and He heard me, and delivered me from ALL my fears." (Psalms 34:4)

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones." (Proverbs 3:5-8)

“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:19) 

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13)

We choose how we live life.  We can allow "the worries" to overwhelm us and take over and live our lives in worry and fear - or we can choose to recognize those worries, sort out the things we can change and pray about those things we have no control over.  The choice is ours. Worries are thieves that try to enter our mind and rob us of all the good things in life.  John 10:10 tells us that "God came so that we could have life and have it MORE abundantly."  Who do you choose to listen to? The Author and Creator of life? Or the worries that are nothing more than annoyances that try to deplete us of the enjoyment of life that God has so abundantly given us? 

L'Chaim - To life!  Choose life!  When the worries flood your mind - combat them by "changing your mind."  Watch them dissipate as you concentrate your mind on your blessings instead of on your lack.  Darkness cannot abide with light.  As you begin to think of all the many ways that you are blessed those little dark "worries" will run in fear, for they cannot stand when you replace them with recognizing ALL the blessings you have in your life.  They will flee. Try it and see and watch God as He blesses you with an increase of faith, mercy, grace and appreciation for ALL the good that is in your life. 

"Worries - be gone! I've no room in my mind for you today as I concentrate on all that is good and right in my life. I give you no more power over my mind. You may not steal any more moments of my life or take away my peace of mind! Be ye gone! I cover you with the blood of Jesus. In Jesus name! AMEN!"

October 4, 2013

Are You in the Middle of a Jonah Moment?

What does God have to do to "capture" your undivided attention?
I wonder what Jonah thought as he sat in the belly of that whale.  I imagine him sitting with his back against a side of the belly wall resting his head in his hands wondering how he had gotten into this “fine kettle of fish.”  Did he sit there berating himself for all his past mistakes that led up to where he was? I’m sure he must have felt hopeless as he sat there, incredulous that he was actually in the belly of a whale.  No human answer to appease the situation.

Although I have never found myself in the “belly of a whale” I have found myself in situations that no matter what angle I looked at it – seemed “hopeless” and like there was no way out.   Ironically, most of those “deep belly” situations are situations that we have allowed ourselves to walk straight into.  I often wonder if God watches us like we watch a movie… Like the scenes in a movie where the person is about to face danger or make an unwise decision, do you think God watches us and says, “No! No! Don’t take that left!  Don’t go in there!”  But stupidly blind we do just that, and then we wonder how we got where we were in the first place…

I’m quite sure that all Jonah could do while he sat in the belly of that whale, was pray.  He couldn’t run from God anymore – there was no place to run!  He was at a point where all he could do was reflect on what had gotten him there and pray that God would deliver him.   Can you imagine what it was like? No doubt it was wet, cold and dark and probably very lonely.  I imagine he could feel the body of the whale moving as the creature moved throughout the depths of the sea.  I’m sure Jonah was incredulous that he was still alive.  I imagine the only thing he could do to keep his sanity was to pray – to talk to God. And God obviously wanted Jonah's undivided attention to use one of the earth's biggest creatures to capture him so that he would finally be still and listen!  What does it take for God to capture your attention?  What does He have to do to bring you to a point where the distractions and noise are at a minimum and you are finally willing to listen to what it is He has to say?  Sometimes we are surrounded with so much noise from our lives that we are missing what it is God has to say to us because we don't know how to "be still and know He is God."

There have been times in my life when I have “run from God.” Either because I’m being wayward and like a spoiled disobedient child who “just wants her way” or because I have wandered off the pathway and gotten lost – like a dumb sheep.  So lost that not unlike what it must have been like for Jonah – all I can do once I’ve gotten tired of going around in circles, is to sit down, get quiet and talk to God.  The talking to Him is sometimes as difficult as the wandering.  Sometimes I haven’t known where to start in the conversation…

“Lord?  It’s me… Ummm… I’m kind of lost… With my words and in my walk… I’m really glad you know my thoughts before I even think them because – I’m not sure I  even understand them myself at this point… I need your help Father. I don’t know who else to turn to… Please help me.  Please forgive me.  Please guide me…”

I believe God honors prayers that come from the heart.  No matter the situation or how we got to that point. I believe that God allows us to be “dumb sheep” and go through a situation because it will humble us and make us even more aware that we need Him.   Perhaps He just wants to hear it from us. 

I have no doubt that even as Jonah sat contemplating his fate, not knowing what was going to happen, speaking most likely from his heart to God and finally ready to listen, that unbeknown to Jonah that whale was already on route towards land, where God would have Jonah vomited up upon the earth – with finally a clearer understanding of what God wanted, and the right mindset to go forth with the calling God had chosen him to do.

God has a calling on each of our individual lives.  We can either “go with the tide” or fight it every step of the way to still come back to the point where we realize that true satisfaction, peace and well being comes with obeying what God has given us to do with our lives.  Even in  writing those words, I see it so clearly – there is a plan for your life, as there was with Jonah’s and it is one that God has given you gifts to achieve.   He is a patient, loving Father who wants the best for you and being your Creator, knows what that “best” is.  Isn’t it time you stopped running from God?  It may not be the actual  “belly of a whale” you find yourself currently in – but discouraged, depressed and with a lack of peace.  Probably all of which Jonah felt himself (and more!). It only takes a conversation with your Heavenly Father to turn a situation around, just as God turned the whale around.  Who knows? He could be turning your situation around even as you read these words.  Trust Him.  He knows what He’s doing and He loves you.

September 3, 2013

Pure Madness I Tell You!

Does this picture from the Mad Tea Party from Alice in Wonderland make you think of your own life?
Okay, I get it now… I’ve reached an age and a point in my life where I fully understand the mad tea party conversation that took place in “Alice in Wonderland.” I suppose that statement is one I should not admit to or at the very least be “scared” to write.  Perhaps I should hit my back button and delete that admission. I won’t because at the moment, life feels very similar to that “mad tea party.”  Although, instead of being surrounded by the March Hare, the Mad Hatter and The Dormouse; they are instead random thoughts within my own head. Am I coming or going? Who am I? What do I want? Do I really want that? Am I right or am I wrong?  Am I up or down?
Have you ever questioned your own actions? Did they make sense to you once, but all of a sudden like someone who has lost their own line of thought midsentence; do you wonder what you were thinking in the first place?  Do you feel as though you’ve gone round and round the mulberry bush only to end up where you started off?  What happened to that confident feeling that you had it all together? That you knew what you wanted in life and you had it figured out – and why didn’t others get it? What was wrong with “them” because it was ooooh soooo simple. 
Perhaps it would be better if I started out this blog entry with “Once upon a time, there was a girl who was sure of life.  Sure of what she wanted. Sure of what she knew.  She was just plain ‘all around sure.’ Then unfamiliar, unexpected, unplanned, un un un things happened in her life.  And the ‘Uns’ took over, blind sighted her, spun her around and around until she got that same “Pin-the- Tail-on-the-Donkey” sensation and had no idea just what direction she was headed.  In fact, she felt as though ‘the Uns’ had won.”

Have the “Uns” won in your life?  Are you taking off that “unexpected” blindfold and wondering how on earth you got from a solid point of certainty to an unrecognizable "where-the-heck-am-I" and "how-the-heck-did-I get-here?" point.  Your internal GPS goofed big time and now you don’t even know how to get back to where you need to be.

Unfortunately we don’t have an “undo” or a “rewind” in life.  But we do have a God who is merciful and graceful and who allows us the chance to admit we got it wrong.  We have a God who is forgiving and patient and who is willing to whisper in our errant ear, “Come child, take my hand. Let me lead you to where you need to be.”  We only need to admit to this. To take His hand and realize that there are certain things we cannot do ourselves. Sometimes we make our own set of circumstances worse by our pride. Maybe our first step in unraveling the knot of confusion and frustration we’ve made of our lives is admittance and realizing that its okay to pray for help.
“Lord, somewhere along the way I’ve lost my sense of direction. I’ve not only lost my way, I’ve lost who I am. This is something I can’t fix myself.  I need you. You are my Creator. You are the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). You knew me when I was created within my mother’s womb (Psalms 139:13). You made me.  You know me even better than I know myself.  You created me for a reason and even if I don’t know what that reason is, I know you do. I know confusion is not of you (1 Corinthians 14:33), so I ask you please to take my hand and direct my steps. While I may not be able to be certain of myself – I can be certain of You. Help me Father, here is my hand. I am placing it in Yours. Thank You for Your mercy, Your Grace, Your patience, Your forgiveness and most of all Your love.  In Jesus precious name I pray.” Amen

Hmmmm… Is it just me or did the tea in this cup suddenly become steeped with more flavor?  Are those “Uns” making a mad dash right out of your mind? The sea of confusion will slowly dissipate and calm and in its place will be peace and love and understanding.  All in due time, or better yet - all in His time.

July 3, 2013

The Gift of You - Dedicated to my Auntie Barb

My Auntie Barb - One of God's Most Precious Gifts in My Life
When I was little, we use to sing together the words of a song that went like this:

"I see the moon, the moon sees me, the moon sees the one that I want to see.  God bless the moon, God bless me, God bless the one that I want to see.  I sometimes think, that God up above created you for me to love.  He picked you out of all the rest because he knew I'd love you the best.  If you get to Heaven and I'm not there, just write my name on the golden stair.  Write it so all the angels can see that I love you and you love me."

What a precious gift you are.  Throughout your life you have reached out to children through your career, socially - with such grace and love and with a natural quality to make each child that has come into your life feel individually special.  God gave you a natural quality of drawing children to you.  A gentleness, a way of understanding, a way of identifying with them.  Meeting them where they have been at - no matter what their life experience had been.  You were chosen to be one of God's "Pied Pipers." So many of us have been individually touched by the Gift of You.

You are one of the most unselfish giving people I know.  Life has often not been kind to you - yet still your gentleness prevails.  What a firecracker you are.  We never know what is going to come out of your mouth next and yet you look so surprised at people's reactions to your raw honesty and definite opinions.  Yet this is all just a part of The Gift of You.

Your life has always written beautiful pages upon mine, even as an adult. You make such a difference in the lives of those who know you.  Your compassion, your wit, your gentleness, your kindness, your openness, your laughter - to know you is to love you and we do.  These are all interwoven qualities that make the specialness of you. 

God knew what he was doing when he wove you together.  He knew that the world needed someone who would make such a difference in others lives.  Lovingly and thoughtfully he weaved you together - like fine silk, like precious gold, fully knowing that you with such grace and humility would touch the lives of children who would then grow into adults and pass on the things that you had taught them to another generation.  Thus making The Gift of You one that will continue on from generation to generation - the gift that keeps on giving. That, my precious Auntie Barb is The Gift of You.

You've never been overly sentimental, always waving off people's thankful reaction to all you do. You've never expected much back - you give without any expectations of receiving.

But it's time you do.  It's time you receive the fruit of your life.  It's time you see how much God continues to use you in the lives of so many.  It's time you see how much you matter.  You always have mattered, it is just that because you have always been a giver you've not had much of a chance to concentrate on receiving.  Your concern has always been more about other people - than for yourself.  Now is the time for you to know, you have not been forsaken.  You have not been forgotten.

Allow yourself to bask in the love of those around you.  Let that be your happy place.  Look upon the faces of all those who come and visit you and share stories of The Gift of You. Look at all the people you continue to touch.  They come in all ages. Over there are the regal "Red Hatters" who more than likely have partook in your wry sense of humor.  I can only imagine the the things you women have sat and laughed and joked about together.  Over there - is the boy who has adopted you as his grandmother - look at how fine he is growing up?  Some of that confidence he has instilled within him has are seeds that have sprouted up from his moments with you.  Over there?  Your older sister.  You are so close in age, does anyone know you better?  Sisterhood and the experiences you've shared - secrets, experiences and history between two women who only have to look at each other to understand.  Over there - is your younger sister. The two of you live so far a part - but always stay so closely in touch. Sisters and best friends, your relationship is entwined, no matter where life has taken you both - you've only been a phone call away - making the miles disappear.  Over there - is your baby brother, although full grown, you've always felt protective of him and although you both have exasperated each other at times, I have heard you speak of him with such concern, love, pride and affection (as well as sisterly tolerance and patience).  Close to your side is the woman who has become a non-blood sister to you.  A better friend one could not ask for.  You have had each others backs for many years - kindred spirits - what many of us would do to have a friend like that.  And lastly, the son who stole your heart. The child you always wanted but was unable to have.  The journey you two have had together has been full of hills and valleys - but look at him now... A father, patient, caring and a son, who loves his mother beyond reason.  These are ALL the results of the Gift of You.  So you see?  We do reap what we sow.  It is your turn to reap a tremendous amount of love.  Let that be your Happy place. Allow all of us to support you, love you, care for you and give back to you.  Receiving is not a sign of weakness - it is a sign of love.

April 29, 2013

Are YOU playing "Peek-A-Boo"? Who Are You REALLY Fooling?

Forgiveness is Not Just About Forgiving Others - How 'About Forgiving Yourself? Hmmmm... It Might Be One Of the Most Difficult Things You Ever Do...
You may have noticed a change in my blog title - notice the "Ex" in front of Prodigal's Daughter. Yes, it was purposely done.  You see the whole story about the prodigal is the fact that he didn't stay a prodigal all his life. It was just part of his journey.  Just a "chapter" of his life. He MOVED ON - from being a "prodigal" back into his father's fold.

You see - that is what prodigals are suppose to do. They are suppose to grow. They are suppose to learn, they are suppose to move forward... Not stay stagnant. Not wallow in their prodigal situation.  What have I learned from my prodigal experience? I have learned much of what I already deep inside knew... 
  1. You cannot hide from God.  Nothing surprises Him. You at your worst does not shock Him. Does not make him love you less. The Bible tells us in Psalm 139:1-4 "He knows your thoughts before you even think them." - Guess what? Hard as you might try - you cannot shock God. (Good try though! ;) )
  2. We serve a God who will use our mistakes, our sins, our weakness to glorify Himself to others. I'll bet you thought God couldn't/wouldn't use you... WRONG.  You see, God looks at your heart. When you gave your life to Him - You gave it! There are no "takesy-backseys." The best teacher is sometimes experience.  It may not be the route that God wanted for you. Not the easiest route to take - BUT I personally think that sometimes experience is the best teacher. Maybe God allows us to go through prodigal moments in our lives because we will be able to serve Him better with what we've learned... And the deepest lesson I have learned over the last five years is that - it is NOTHING but His grace, His love, His mercy, His forgiveness that has saved ME. There truly is no degree of sin. Sin is Sin. We all sin, we all fall short the glory of God. It is only through the shed blood of His Son Jesus Christ that has cleared a pathway and made us able to come boldly before the Father's thrown and ask for help, for forgiveness, for guidance.
  3. Throughout the Bible God has used "imperfect people." People that most of the time you wouldn't guess that He would use.  Why? Because God shares His glory with NO man.  Perhaps also He decided, knowing that the Bible was written for YOU and for ME that He needed to put some seriously "faulted" people in the telling of it, so that we could realize that He could ALSO use US. How could we possibly relate to people in the Bible who have not encountered all the questions, all the short comings, all the problems that we - in our present time have come up against?  The Bible tells us that there is NOTHING new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

Those are just three examples of what I have learned. I have also learned that when God forgives you - He FORGIVES YOU and that we need to learn to walk in that forgiveness AND to forgive OURSELVES.  Stop beating yourself up! Perhaps you chose the worst of paths to go down - but did you learn from it? Has it made you a better (or more humble) person? Are you able to use what you have learned from your prodigal journey to help someone else who may be in the same situation? God USES people!  Hopefully whatever you are experiencing (or have experienced) has made you a more compassionate person.  I know it has me. I have a better understanding of human nature. I know that "there go I BUT for the grace of God."  You see? What realization have YOU come to? (Or are you still the middle of your lesson - and that is okay too - because you won't be "stuck" there forever). You cannot hide from God. You cannot surprise God.  But you CAN surprise yourself.

Life is a series of lessons. I believe they last until you take your last breath. God is always teaching us, allowing us to grow - revealing things to us that give us a better understanding of ourselves. The only thing we have to be - is open to receive them!  I am still discovering ME. I am still learning about ME. And that is okay. Why? Because I'm honest about it. 

Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis sinned and tried to hide from God.  I never understood how they could do that? Think that they could hide what they did before God. A God who is all seeing, all knowing? But here is the thing - that is something that we still TRY to do today.  Hide from God.  It is pointless because we simply can't.  He is omnipotent. All seeing, all knowing.  It is similar to that game we use to play with our toddler children. Peek-a-boo.  When we would hide our face with our hands, then part our fingers and say "peek-a-boo!" Now I don't know about your children, but my children would laugh and giggle in delight.  Where was mommy's face? Where did it go? Ohhhhh there it is! Oh how they loved that game.  But here is the thing, mommy was NEVER really hid!  And in the case of our Heavenly Father - neither are WE.

Be honest with God about where you are spiritually. Talk to Him openly. Share what you are going through, what you are feeling.  You are in a personal relationship with Him. So be open, because He knows ANYWAY - but He wants to hear it from YOU.

Moving forward from having a prodigal moment is one that takes time. Some experience being a prodigal longer than others. But the lessons you learn are life changing.  And here is what I can say most of all - RESTORATION.  There is nothing like it.  When the prodigal in the Bible went rushing into the welcoming arms of his father, I'll bet it was the best hug he ever received.  I'll bet the appreciation for his father was like nothing he'd ever known. I'll bet from that moment on, because of his prodigal journey he listened more attentively to what his father said. He didn't take one moment of "togetherness" time for granted. Maybe he came back with a clearer understanding of the important things in life. And realized that it was not in worldly goods - and that his father had not "deprived" him of worldly experiences, like he thought he had had. Maybe he came back to his father realizing that everything wanted - he had already had. He just hadn't realized it.

Coming back is a slow journey. Each step is hard. The enemy fights you ALL the way with taunts that almost make you want to turn around - but you realize you can't. You HAVE to go forward. It is a slow and painful process full of realizations and self-discovery.

What have I gained back? Something I cannot put a price on. Something I will not ever take for granted and something that cannot come or be substituted in any other way. And that is "The peace that passes all understanding." Peace. Knowledge that God LOVES me.  (And here is the thing - He never stopped!)

April 2, 2013

"This is *Not* Tombstone Nor is This a Corral,O.K.?"

Each one of us has our own “Achilles Heel” and sometimes circumstances in life can feel as though we are constantly hitting the same “sore spot” over and over and over again, until we just want to sit down on the floor rubbing that “sore foot” with our hands and cry. Maybe, if we took time to examine our “vulnerable spot” (and pray about it) we could see what it is that needs “healing” (Yes, the pun was intended).

What are those things in your life about yourself that you try to avoid? You know - the things that you try to push into the far corners of your mind so that you won’t have to think about them? Perhaps because they cause you too much pain to examine? We all have them. There is no perfect person – not one, and you can bet that at times we are up against people or situations that bring those things up front and personal until you realize that you’ve been backed into a corner and have no choice – but to face it/them. Like the famous Tombstone “OK Corral” gunfight, I have found myself facing circumstances where I have felt challenged, as if I were reluctantly being forced into a duel I didn’t start or want to participate in. Have you ever felt that way?

Like a school bully pushing you and pushing you and pushing you until you have no choice but to say, “Okay! Enough!” and push back, or you realize that the only way things are going to change is if you address whatever it is (situation, weakness, problem, person) and deal with it head on.

I think that sometimes this may be God’s way of telling us, “Kelly, before you can move forward you need to face this. You need to deal with it. You need to make changes so that this wound won’t become infected…” Or perhaps it has already become infected, and in order to stop the pain and allow healing we need to consider what caused it and what needs to be changed.

The consideration can be painful. Most of us try to avoid pain, but sometimes the hurt has to occur before it can get better. Sometimes we need to work through the hurt before we can move forward. When we examine the hurt we can ask ourselves what we need to do to make it go away. Maybe part of the healing is in knowing what to do when those “red flags” come up. What are your red flags? They are symptoms like a fever is to an illness. They are not the problem – but they are signs that there is a problem occurring. We treat a fever with medicine and then we go to a doctor to try to have them figure out what’s wrong. What’s wrong? What is bothering you? What can you do to “fix it?” The Bible tells us in Matthew 22:39

“Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

But do you love yourself? Loving yourself means you take the time to examine when you are feeling hurt, depressed or angry – whatever it is that has caused you to feel that way. It takes caring and patience and perseverance and love to work through certain things. If you would do it for someone else you “love” why wouldn’t you do it for yourself?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot with my own life. Ironically the more I’ve tried to avoid it, the more it has come “front and center” till it is unavoidable. Till I can't get around it.  Kind of like a giant elephant is in the room.  Have you ever been in such a bad mood that you don’t even want to be around your own self? What’s bugging you? What needs fixing? What battle is raging inside your head? Maybe it’s time to face it head on. So that after the dust settles after the battle (you are having within your own self I might add…) is over, you can get back on that horse called life and mosey on off into the sunset. Tipping your hat as you go, feeling happy that whatever battle you just came through has ended. It’s worth a shot…

March 17, 2013

The Pathway

I was walking down a path on an otherwise unremarkable day, when I came to a bend which led me to a fork in the road.

I stopped. I hesitated. I contemplated.

Knowing fully well which pathway I should choose...
To my left  - a familiar, well-worn path, predictable, more of the same on which I had already tread, a ho-hum kind of travel, familiar and reliable yet unexciting and if more of the same - tedious.
To my right - a path that drew my attention by its intoxicating scent of blossoms.  Its pathway surrounded on both sides by  long rows of weeping willow trees with such thick branches they formed an arch as far as the eye could see; and oh how they swaying in the wind as if to entice me. 
 “Come, girl… Come down our way.”
I hesitated again.  Should I stay on familiar, unchanging ground or dare I step upon this beautiful path of unfamiliarity?
Tucked deep within the bows of one of the Weeping Willows, hung a  small, wooden white painted  sign, whose letters had been painstakingly engraved with a wood burning tool; carefully created  with the precision and care which only a feminine hand would have taken the tedious time to do. It read, “Private Way.”
The sign was clearly meant to dissuade, yet caused within me the opposite effect.
“You have no business going down that other road. Don’t do it.” A quiet stern little voice whispered in my head. “Don’t do it. Stay on the pathway of familiarity. It is your safest bet.”
“What can the harm be?” I scoffed, stamping my foot.  “I deserve to walk down this pathway. How splendid it is and I can't help but wonder where it leads? Perhaps it is even a short cut?  I’m sure it will be fine.  An adventure, what harm will be done?”
With that my decision was made.  I took a bold if not rebellious step onto the path. 
Sheer heaven
Each step lovelier than the next, my heart felt full.  My well-worn shoes did the pathway a dishonor. Leaving me no other choice...  Feeling somewhat naughty, glancing quickly around me, I knelt down and removed my dusty shoes and socks and lowered my bare toes down into the springy velvety softness of green grass which cupped around my feet lovingly.
“Ohhhh…” I sighed.  What harm would a moment of rest do? I lay back looking up a the blueness of the partially seen sky between high treetop limbs.  Allowing my palms to face down so my fingers could caress the softness of the dark earth beneath them.  How heady and captivating were the fragrant flowers lining the way;  turning only my head to admire the breathtaking view I wonder what lay beyond the horizon? Could there possibly be any sight more splendid than this? Rising back up, I felt light-footed and danced along the pathway, skipping in and out and around the long trunks of the trees giddy at the thought of more to come.
Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine! My pathway! Made in love for ME, meant for ME! For my feet alone.  Mine to cherish! Mine to love. Mine to adore! Mine to walk!
So enchanted and self-involved was I that I did not see along one side, a woman’s straw hat flung and forgotten, off in the grass - or the initials of a couple, encircled in a heart engraved upon the trunks of one of the trees.

On I went, following this oh so splendid path. The longer I trod upon it the more I wanted to continue.  Before long, the sun began to set, and I wrapped my arms around my chest beginning to feel cold. Cold and very much alone. Rubbing my arms, I hesitated for the first time. Looking far ahead, I could see way in the distance a stone cottage, with a warm yellow light shinning from its windows.  How lovely, I thought as it came closer and closer into view.

To my surprise a very robust, unattractive and heavy set woman flew out of the house. Indeed, if not for her voice, I would have thought she was a he. 

"What are you doing on our pathway? Did you not see the sign?"  She said furiously.  Eyeballing me with contempt her hands furled tight in fists. An angry tick twitching within her right cheek.

"You have defiled it! You had NO business continuing on property that is not yours."  The more she looked at me, the angrier she got. "What business have you here?"

I glanced behind me at the way I had come.  Thought about the day I had experienced, looked back at the pathway I had come to love, and realized, no answer I gave her would suffice.

"I have none," I admitted honestly. "I just happened upon the way, and noticed this lovely, lovely path...without giving it much thought - I took it."

She looked incredulous for a moment. Spittle forming on the outside corners of her lips. "Lovely way?"  She said. "Lovely way???"  She looked behind me at the path as though she was trying to see what I saw.  "This way has not been lovely in many a year! It has been a hard pathway.  A relentless pathway, and exhausting pathway.  I have had to beat weeds down. What once was lush and vibrant and full has become hard and unforgiving and unyielding.  I have tried to grow many a vegetable upon this soil - yet it has withered and died. It has become cold and hard and unyielding...Yet this pathway has been mine since I was 18. I know every grain of its soil.  For 38 years it has been mine. I know its every mood. It is MINE not yours and I will not allow you to come prancing down the way as if you owned it. You do not, no matter what you may think." "

Listening to her I stood astonished, my mouth gaping.  How could she not see what I saw?  The land she described was not that of which I stood upon.  It was lush and green and vibrant and seductive.   Calling my name like a lover - tempting me to become one with it over and over again.

She stood defiantly facing me. Braced for war. A fight I could not win. I had only known this pathway for a short while - she had known it for years.  I did not see what she saw - and I actually felt sorry for her because somewhere along the way, she lost the ability to see the beauty in the path.  Her perspective had changed. Her appreciation for it had grown cold. I did not see what she saw before her and yet she was right.  It was not my pathway.  It did not belong to me. It belonged to her.  There was nothing I could say.  I hated her at that moment. Hated her because she had everything I wanted and I wanted to stay there.  Make her be gone! It was my pathway! Created for ME in love. Mine to walk, mine to enjoy, mine to cherish, mine to love! - Yet it wasn't.  The pathway belonged to her.  I didn't want to go. I wanted to stay!  Yet, it wasn't mine.

Reaching into her pocket she pulled out a paper.  "You see?" She said shoving her big man size hand under my nose for me to see it.  "Proof! Proof that this is MY pathway. Not yours. So be gone!"

I had no words. For what could I say?  She smiled an ugly smile, turned around and headed back through the door of which she came. I heard the door slam behind her.

Reaching down to caress the mossy ground, I was at a loss for words.  It seemed like it should be mine. It felt like it should be mine.  Yet proof stood within the walls of that house that it was not. The sorrow I felt was immense. It filled my soul. Turning around I didn't know which way to go. Should I go back the way I came? Yet I could not. Should I go forward? How? I only knew that I could not remain in front of that house for fear she would come out again.  How could she not see the beauty I saw? The love I felt? It was all around me. How could I be without it?  Yet as long as she remained, she was proof that it was not mine.  This most beautiful and gifted pathway.  How could years be spent upon it not relishing in the lusciousness of it? When had her eyes dulled? Or perhaps she had never seen it for what it was. How very sad...

Sighing, I dusted off my hands and continued forward finally understanding the weeping willows lining the way.

Amazing Grace... You cannot hide from God.

There is no joy in feeling like a prodigal.  You feel like you have a big "P" engraved on the front of your chest.  Your peace is gone and you feel as though you have lost direction.  You want to talk to God, but you are ever aware of  your sins before you. It is as if  you have allowed yourself (at your own choosing) to enter into a maze - and looking back at it, not even understanding WHY you allowed yourself to wander off the pathway and enter into a maze of confusion (which by the way is *not* of God).  As you walk further into the maze you feel disoriented.  No matter how you try to examine your actions, you cannot pinpoint what it is that made you decide to venture in.  Or even worse - how to get out.  You try talking to God - but all you hear is your voice echoing off the walls of the maze.  The loneliness is stifling.  Round and round you go - ending up in sections that you have already been...

What keeps you from hearing from God? Your own imperfections and sins and sorrows and disappointments in yourself which every time you try and listen to God - drown out the Holy Spirit by raising their volume louder and louder in an accusatory manner. The shame and disgrace and yes, maybe there is something that you are clinging to that you don't want to let go off.  Maybe the fear of letting "go" is what makes you grip whatever it is you are gripping all the tighter.

I think of the story of the Prodigal son and I understand it.  He was full of himself. Maybe he felt as if is father had too tight a reign on him. Maybe he felt as if he was "missing out on life" and he wanted to go out into the world and experience ALL there was to experience.  So his father (knowing the mistake he was making, but knowing that love includes allowing someone to have free will) allowed him to go.  How hard that must have been for the father?  As parents we want only the best for our children, we want to protect them, keep them safe, but sometimes our children learn best by experiencing "life lessons." And the best (and hardest) thing we can do for them - is to let them go. Praying and hoping that God will keep them and draw them closer to Him.

Maybe there is a point in our walk with God where He allows us to make mistakes to learn by them. Although perhaps He would rather we wouldn't "take the hard route" but perhaps He knows that we will learn so much more about His grace, His love, His mercy if instead of "jerking us back" He allows us to have those "prodigal" experiences in our lives... Maybe He knows that through the pain of being a prodigal it will bring us a deeper understanding of what God did for us, what He gave up for us, How He loves us and maybe also - that we ALL fall short the glory of God.  It is only through His shed blood on the cross that has made a way for us to come before Him.

Some mazes are deeper and wider than others.  I think they are made up of our own creation, our own situations. Some walls are higher than others.  What is your wall? What is your maze? Do you feel as though you are wandering all alone?  Even within my own situation - I can say that I know that although I don't "feel it" I know that God is not far away.  Like a parent teaching a child to walk - I know His arms are there to catch me - should I call out to Him. The enemy would have you believe that you are so far gone that God cannot reach you - but that is a lie.  God loves YOU.  He made YOU.  He knows every hair on YOUR head. In spite of how you got to where you are. In spite of whatever your "prodigal" situation is - it has come as no surprise to HIM.  How could it when He knows your thoughts before you even think them? (Psalms 139:2). He hears the mutterings you mutter as you contemplate your situation and walk through your maze.  He knows your heart. There is nothing that comes as a surprise to Him.  (Although things *may* surprise you).

How hard was the journey home for the Prodigal son?  His sins were ever before him.  What he learned, the sorrows he experienced.  The Bible doesn't tell us how long that "trip back home" took him - how he must have played over and over in his head all the shameful things he had experienced. How many times did he want to turn around and go in the opposite direction of home feeling such shame?  How long that road must have felt.  He wasn't the same person as before he had left. How long that road must have seemed back.  The Bible tells is in Luke:15 that he expected just to return home and be hired on as one of his father's servants. He didn't feel the "right" to be his son anymore. How surprised he must have been when upon that journey back home his father filled with compassion - while his son was STILL along way off - came running out to him.  Running out to him.  How humble the son must have felt? I imagine he broke down in tears, as he felt his father's arms around him. This was not the same "cocky" son who ventured out into the world with his inheritance in his back pocket.  The life lessons he learned would have stayed with him all the days of his life and changed him to his very core.

I do not profess to have all the answers, my maze has been of my own building and I walked into it of my own accord (and that I say not as excuse, but as a fact). But I know WHO does have all the answers. I don't think it pleases God that we allow ourselves to become prodigals - but I think that God knows us better than we know ourselves and maybe He allows us to go through prodigal moments because He knows in the end He will be glorified and He knows that we will use what we have experienced to help someone else. 

The prodigal son experienced more than his father ever wanted him to experience.  I wonder sometimes if he shared what he had gone through with his father. If his father had listened quietly and cried silently as his son relayed his experiences that his father never intended for him to experience. Probably though, the son was too ashamed to even voice what he had gone through. Although the results of those experiences would have clearly changed him from how he had been before.  I wonder if through the lessons the son had learned he was able to impart wisdom to others he came in contact with upon his return and through his experiences, help keep someone from going through all he had been through...

If you are feeling as if you have allowed yourself to become a prodigal - it is important to know this.

God still loves you. He hasn't stopped.  Although your own sins, mistakes and short comings may make you feel as though God doesn't love you anymore - He does! Don't allow yourself to sink in the mire of your situation and feel as though you are all alone.  It is easy to feel that way. It is easy to feel hopeless and lonely and as though no one understands.  That is one of the biggest tricks of the enemy.  You are NOT a prodigal - you are a child of the Utmost High God.  He sees you - you are not hidden from Him.  Although through your situation you may feel as though you are all alone and that nobody understands or cares - but GOD DOES.  Call out to Him.  You are not hidden from Him.  The Bible tells (Romans 8:38-39) For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

It doesn't matter what other people think - sometimes people are quick to judge. But they haven't walked in your shoes. The only thing that matters is what God thinks.  Stop worrying about other people. God looks at your heart.  He is holding your precious face in His hands.  He is looking deep into your eyes and He is saying, "I love YOU. Child you are MINE."  He sees you, really sees you - through your imperfections, your faults and ALL.  He loves YOU unconditionally.  He is the ONLY One who can stand you back onto your feet.  Wipe off the grime of your maze and put you onto the path He has for you.  Stop listening to all the noise going on in your head.  Stop listening to the judgments and opinions of others. What matters is what HE thinks, what HE says what He wants.  Sometimes part of the problem we have is that we have to much noise going on in our heads and it drowns out what God is trying to tell you. When you are ready to listen, He will take you by the hand and direct you out of the maze and set your feet upon the pathway He alone has designed for you. Because the steps of the righteous are indeed ordained by HIM. (Psalms 37:23).  And note that it doesn't say "some" of the steps.  It is "all."   Even in the "midst" of a "maze" experience - that I think is "amazing."

January 16, 2013

Perspective - What's Yours?

Maybe it is time to change the way you think? Alter your perspective?
Have you ever noticed how your "perspective" on something can effect every part of your life?  Kind of like dunking a tea bag in a hot cup of steaming water.  How you "view" something flavors every aspect - not just one... your mood, your day, how you feel about yourself, how you feel about others...  Just to name just a few...

What shade of "perspective" life glasses are YOU wearing? And is what you are viewing through them *really* what lays ahead?  Maybe with this new year it is time to think about "changing your perspective." Take off those ol' negative life glasses and put on a new pair.  Maybe make a checklist of the things you want to change in your life and then slowly examine how you can go about checking them off. Make a change...  Change is not easy, but I have found that nothing worth anything is...

I recently had a (non-cancer related) surgery at the suggestion of my oncologist.  It was suppose to be an "easy" in and out surgery - and while the surgery went well, I had complications which put me in the hospital for six days.  This was *not* in my plans of how to start the New Year.  As I lay in the hospital, I found myself thinking about life and how precious it is.  How we simply wake up every morning feeling as though "we are owed today."  The truth is - we are NOT.  Each day IS a gift and we often forget that. Here I was, in the hospital not knowing when I would get out, grumbling at this turn of events. All I could think about was how much of a total inconvenience and screw up this was to the start of my New Year.  Then I overhead a conversation a doctor was having with my hospital roommate, who had lung cancer, HIV, blood clots and oh so many other health problems. It kind of made my problems seem so trivial, and I realized how much I needed to change my perspective...

Life is a series of lessons. What are you learning about yourself? Or are you so focused on someone else's short comings that you haven't taken the time to examine or consider your own? (Hmmmmmm....)  Over the last 4 years of my life I have realized again and again that it truly is nothing but God's grace, mercy, forgiveness and love that keeps me going. I have realized that there are so many things I need to change about ME and that I could *never* play judge or be critical of someone else.  The truth is that unless you walk in someone else's shoes you have NO idea what it is they are going through.  Man looks at the outward appearance - God looks at the heart.  Maybe that is where compassion comes in? My lifestyle may be so different then someone else's and I *may* not agree with someone else's life style - but it is *not* for me to judge.  It is God's job. When I look back on my life prior to being a Prodigal, I can see that how I meant to live - in love may have come off as judgmental to someone else and I truly think that is why God allowed me to go through humble experience after humble experience to show that how I was living was not showing compassion and love I had thought... The Bible tells us "that our righteousness is as filthy rags."  My perspective has changed.  Not my faith, not God's word - but my own perspective about ME and how God wanted me to view other people.  I have found that through the change in my perspective I am able to love people more.  I am able to listen better.  I am able to pray more effectively.  I am able to walk in love.  Not compromising my faith or my own lifestyle - but with a better understanding of others.

Are you walking in love?  Are you walking in forgiveness?  Are you walking humbly or are you strutting down the streets of your life, as if YOU own the whole road?  It only takes one unexpected thing to make you realize  how precious life is... How about not putting off those changes you've been considering? Working towards them? Knowing that you "can teach" an old dog new tricks - it just may take a longer amount of time.  But in the long run, it really is so worth it... It truly is...