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.


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."