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.


December 31, 2014

Goodbye 2014 Fare Thee Well!! Lea Michele- Auld lang syne *Lyrics*

Looking Forward, Not Behind

Close the door and say a final goodbye to things worth "goodbying" as you close the door to 2014. Wait with joyful expectation on the wonderful things God has in store for you in 2015.  The best is YET to come! 
You never know what is going on behind the fa├žade of someone’s face. We live in a day and age where people are ready to snap in a moment.  Common sense is no longer common.  Common courtesy no longer exists.  People are only concerned about themselves.  We have become a microwave society where we want what we want when we want it and the heck with what anyone else thinks or feels. We are truly living in the last days.
“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains. You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.  Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Mark 13:8-13)
None of the above should be news to us, as we hear it on the news every night.  It is more an awareness than anything else.  Along with the anxiety of the above comes concern and depression but we are not without hope because the battle has already been won.  As we enter into the New Year, let us not be discouraged but encouraged because God is still in control.  Let us treat others with kindness and understanding and love.  Let us think about how Jesus would respond.  Let us turn the other cheek when someone offends us and surprise them by showing an outpouring of love and forgiveness.  This is not something that is easy to do and totally goes outside of our nature.  Let us remember to PRAY for our nation.  Pray and encourage others.  Let the light of Christ shine forth as a beacon of light in a dark stormy world where people are running scared.  It is so easy to get filled with anxiety over what we hear on the news or what we see going on in the people surrounding us.  We need to be a calming influence.
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of sound mind.” (2nd Timothy 1:7)
"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-16)
I know it is hard letting the light of Christ shine through us when we feel overwhelmed by the darkness of the world that surrounds us, but we need to remember that the Bible also says:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
We don’t have the strength or energy or know how to combat things on our own accord.  It is only through Christ that we are able to go forward.  May one of our prayers for 2015 be to trust Him more.  To remember who we are in Christ. 
"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you.” (Isaiah 43:1-2)
As this old year passes away, let us reflect on it and think about those lessons (especially for prodigals that have come back home) we have experienced and learned.
Think about the doors that God has had you close this year.  Maybe it was a door you didn’t want to close.  Maybe it was a door that God had to close FOR you because you weren’t strong enough to close it for yourself.  Maybe you are still smarting from the pain of it.  Don’t reopen it, don’t go by your feelings no matter how much you wish that door was still open  – leave it closed.  It has been closed for a reason.  Don’t reopen a wound that God is healing. Remember that we only see in part – but God see’s in full.  If He has allowed a door to your life to close, there is a reason for it.  Seal it shut and walk away from the door for 2015.  There is a better door full of God’s abundant blessings coming your way. You just have to trust Him. 
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not to your own understanding.  In ALL your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” (Proverbs 3:5)
Pray for those who persecute you.  The only ones that ol’ slewfoot can use to hurt you are those you love the most.  It is hardest to pray for someone who has hurt you, but in doing so there is freedom there.  Say the words even if you don’t feel them as you say them.  Just getting them out is the hardest of things to do.  In time it will come easier, the pain of deception will fade away and you’ll find you are able to pray sincerely from the heart and not just out of obedience.  This is what God has called you to do.
Don’t allow ol’slewfoot to make you bitter or to doubt God cares.  He does!  The plans He has in store for you are better than any you could make for yourself.  Just believe it. Why? Because He says so!
"For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9-11)
If you are a prodigal who has come back home, look ahead of you and not behind, close the door to 2014 and praise God that He is a God of second chances.  A God of grace, a God of love, a God of forgiveness.  2014 has been covered by His precious blood – now go forward in His grace thankful for a fresh new start – or as I say – a fresh new page of life to write upon.  Keep your eyes looking forward and remember all that you have learned.  Remember what He has brought you through and glorify Him further because of it.
Remember also that the doors that ol'slewfoot tempts us can very often be those we least expect. 
"Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves." (Matthew 10:16)
He will not come in something unattractive, but something that beckons to you and makes you turn your head. That is why it is called temptation. Use wisdom and pray about all things.
Tonight, as you close the door permanently on another year past, thank God for having brought you through it and trust Him that as He says in His word, “The number of your days He will fulfill.” (Exodus 23:26) He knows what He is doing, as you say goodbye to 2014 trust Him for 2015.  He is in control!
Here's to the year 2015 – May God bless, encourage you and draw you nearer to Him.  May His good and perfect will be done in your life.  May He open up the windows of Heaven and rain down blessings upon you so abundantly that you will not be able to hold them in both hands!  Remember Who has called you, remember who has created you, remember who loves you and praise His blessed name!

December 23, 2014

Mary Mary - Shackles (Praise You)


"Oh What a Tangled Web We Weave, When First We Practice to Deceive!"
~ Sir Walter Scott

Even if he did say so himself, the web was magnificent, translucent and large. The design beautifully created, although unless you were of his species you would not be able to appreciate its intricate design, the time it had taken and extreme care that had gone into its making.  Now to sit and wait, it would only be a matter of time…

She was beautifully stupid.  It didn’t occur to her that she should stop and think before proceeding.  Like a mermaid’s siren, she was seduced by it and had to follow where it led.   Where was it coming from? Who was singing it? The song was lovely; it filled her with wonder and curiosity which over ruled common sense.  It was magical and fascinating and beautiful all at the same time.  She was mesmerized; willingly she followed it like a sleep walker only awake.
“What is your pleasure?” Whispered a seductive voice in her ear, “tell me my love and I shall give you everything your heart desires.”  She believed it.  She delighted in it, not once did she ever question the source.  “What have you always wanted and never had?  Come away with me…” It enticed her.  She went forward.  She did not see a web, she saw a beautifully intricate pathway that glistened like diamonds and silver, it filled her with wonder, delight and pleasure at the very sight of it.  The closer she walked towards it the more dim the problems and dilemmas and disappointments of her daily life dimmed.  Like a moth attracted to light, she walked towards it.  It filled her with desire, it filled her with pleasure, and it filled her with wonder. “Yes, that’s it.  Come to me my darling, closer still and I will reach out my hand to you.”
Red flag warnings came up in her mind that made her stop and hesitate for just one moment  but the temptation to find out what was ahead was stronger. She had to touch it, as she reached out to touch it her hand got caught on the web and the harder she tried to free herself the more caught she became.  First it was her hand, and then it was her wrist, her forearm.  The more she struggled for freedom the more stuck she became and it reeled her in like fish caught on a line until there she hung upon the web, full bodied.  The stars that had blinded her fell like scales from her eyes and she realized how ugly a situation she had allowed herself in.
Out of the corner he stepped out into the light revealing himself in his true form, which was nothing how she had pictured him to be.  He walked over to her and laughed a diabolical laugh, delighted that his scheme had succeeded.
“Welcome to my web of deception.”  He said, tilting his head to the side.  “Truly the connotation of you each being like dumb sheep is accurate.  It never ceases to amaze me how gullible you are.  It is almost too easy sometimes…  What is it the spider said to the fly? ‘Come into my parlor?’ and she did.”  He threw his head back and laughed.
She struggled to free herself, entangling herself further.
He studied her with interest, “A fighter, are you? Unfortunately for you, you walked into this situation of your own good and perfect will and now you are truly stuck… I’ve a few other traps I need to check upon, so sit tight.” He barked out a laugh and melted back into the darkness.
Oh how stupid she felt to have fallen for such a farce. The more she struggled the more the web held her tight.  Why hadn’t she heeded the red flagged warnings?  What to do?  What to do?

The spirit of depression came over her as she felt deflated like an airless balloon.  All her sins and faults danced before her mind, taunting her, cajooling and mocking her. 
“Pray,” came a whisper.
She hesitated and looked in the direction he had disappeared, she was afraid to respond out loud for fear he would hear her and return.  “I feel so stupid; I don’t know what to pray.” She thought.  “I knew better yet I never saw this coming.  How something that sounded so beautiful could be so deceptive.”
"And no wonder, for satan himself masquerades as an angel of light." (2 Corinthians 11:14)
"Did you think he would come in a manner you would recognize? That would have been too easy... "Came the soft response.  "That is why it says:"
"Be as wise wise as serpents as an innocent as doves." (Matthew 10:16) 
"Perhaps I should just give up then... I can't free myself."
"No you cannot, but the good news is He came to set the captives free. Pray..."

Taking a deep hesitating and shaky breath, she prayed:

"Father, I come before you praising you and thanking you that when I am weak you are made strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) and that greater are You that is in me than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4).  I'm afraid I've made a mess of things and can't seem to find my way out.  You say in Your Word that whatever we bind on earth will be bound in Heaven and whatever we loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven. (Matthew 18:18)  I ask that you would loose me from these chains that hold me fast in the precious name of Your Son, my Savior Jesus Christ. Forgive me for my sins and wash me with His precious blood, please help me to put my feet back on the pathway I should be on. I thank you that I can call on You for guidance and for help.  I thank you for your mercy, your grace and your love which sustains me.  In Jesus' name I pray. Amen."

As if sliced a part, the webs that held her released her, she was free.

"Now clothe yourself in your spiritual armor."

"Lord, I put on the helmet of salvation and the breast plate of righteousness.  Around my waist I put the belt of truth and I shod my feet with the preparation of the gospel.  I pick up my shield of faith and grab my sword of the Spirit." (Ephesians 6:10-18)

At that very moment, he returned.   "Nooooooooo!!!" He screamed when he saw she was free.  He charged at her, but she raised her shield in front of her and he came to an abrupt hault.

"Get behind me satan. I am a child of the Utmost High God.  I am covered with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. I belong to him!"

As she boldly stood with her legs a part and her sword of the Spirit waving in one hand, shield of faith in the other he disappeared in front of her like a puff of smoke... "We will meet again..." he threatened as he vanished.

God had given her the strength to get through it, as the devil disappeared, so did her strength and she dropped her arms to her side, exhausted.

"Thank You Lord for  never leaving nor forsaking me, for giving me the strength I need at the moments I need it most."  Tucking her sword in it's sheild by her waist, and picking up her shield.  She wiped off the webbing residue from her shoulders and turned around to step back on the pathway she should never have departed, humbled but wiser and stronger in Him. And forward she proceeded.

"Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, pressing on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called her heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13-14)
"Not by Power, Not by Might, but by My Spirit, Says the Lord."
(Zechariah 4:6)




December 18, 2014

"I Am A Christian" By Maya Angelou

When I say ... "I am a Christian"
"I'm not shouting "I'm clean livin'."
I'm whispering "I was lost,
Now I'm found and forgiven."

When I say ... "I am a Christian"
I don't speak of this with pride.
I'm confessing that I stumble
and need Christ to be my guide.

When I say ... "I am a Christian"
I'm not trying to be strong.
I'm professing that I'm weak
And need His strength to carry on.

When I say ... "I am a Christian"
I'm not bragging of success.
I'm admitting I have failed
And need God to clean my mess.

When I say ... "I am a Christian"
I'm not claiming to be perfect,
My flaws are far too visible
But, God believes I am worth it.

When I say ... "I am a Christian"
I still feel the sting of pain.
I have my share of heartaches
So I call upon His name.

When I say ... "I am a Christian"
I'm not holier than thou,
I'm just a simple sinner
Who received God's good grace, somehow

Seasons Change

It's Time to Celebrate Life! "L'Chaim!"
Good things come to ex-Prodigals!  Oh yes… You just have to believe it!  It is so easy to stay in a “head hung down” position.  But THAT is not your calling!  Once a prodigal does not mean ALWAYS a prodigal!  You know, once the son returned home the Father killed the fatted calf!  They celebrated!  They had a party!  In other words the son was loved up mighty much!  Hopefully he was able to enjoy it!
“But the father said to his slaves, 'Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.' And they began to celebrate.…” (Luke 15:23-24)
If you have made your way back home, it’s time to stop looking behind you, and look ahead.  A prodigal journey is not one that should last you ALL your life.  It was a season.  Seasons change and now it’s time to move forward, wiser with the information you have gained.  Stop beating yourself up, let go of what has already been let go.  If God’s not holding you for it, why should you?  Get out of that “time out corner” that you have put yourself in and begin a fresh.  You can’t go back, you can’t change the past BUT you can go forward.  Straighten up that back, raise that chin high, lift those eyes up, they’ve been focused down too long.  YOU are a child of the UTMOST HIGH God.  You are royalty.  You belong to Him.  It’s time to move forward.  Close the doors on 2014 and wait with baited breath and joyful expectation for all that He has in store for you for 2015.
I have learned from my experience with cancer that life is too short.  That you must savor every moment! That each day we are given is a gift from God, a blank sheet of paper to write fresh upon!  So write well!  He has given you gifts – discover them and use them!  There is no greater joy than using your God given talents to glorify Him!  Try something new in 2015.  Is there something you’ve always wanted to try?  Something you’ve never done before?  As I have stated in my previous posts, I bought a quilted board that I call my “Bucket Board.”  I have begun to list things I plan to do in 2015 on it.  Things I had put off for one reason or another.   What desires has God put into your heart?  Maybe take a moment to write them down and list them.  You might find yourself giggling over them as I did, because some of them things that came to mind, were funny!  For instance, I plan on trying to ride one of those stationary bulls.  I’ve always wanted to try it! So why not?! If anything it will be a crack up and who knows? Perhaps I will actually surprise myself by being able to hold on longer than I imagine! J
Wrap your arms around life and hug it REAL tight.  These are the memories that later on, you’ll look back on.  Don’t let ol’slew foot keep you stagnant in a pool of prodigal regrets that you have already come out of, if you’ve made your way back home – your outta there!  Don’t stew in it.  Life is a journey with peaks and valleys and you need to keep stepping!   
When I went through cancer, I gained an inch scar where they took the cancer out, right where you would place your hand to say the pledge of allegiance.  I gained a huge scar underneath my left arm pit.  They did what they had to do to save my life – and they did it well.  Compared to what some of my beautiful Pink Sisters have gone through, physically my body has changed little (most of my scarring from my experience is more predominan upon what cancer did to my life and the wounds show up more upon my soul).  My body had gone through a war – and by the mercy and grace and love of God, I came out of it victorious, my life in tack, but I felt as though I wanted (needed) to take my body back.  Claim it as my own once again.  Hence, I made a decision to do something I never thought I would do – get a tattoo as a birthday present to me, for me with love.  Around my left ankle I got a pink ribbon tattoo (like an anklet) with a white ribbon entwined with it that says, “Survivor.”  I claimed my body back as MINE.  Later on I got another tattoo of a butterfly with my favorite quote from  the movie (musical) Fiddler on the Roof.  “L’Chaim!”  Which is Hebrew for “to life!”
At that same time, I found a quote by my favorite poet, Maya Angelou:
“My mission in life is not nearly to survive, but to thrive, and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style.”
Next to writing for the Lord, which is my calling – the above quote is my mission in life as well.  Find out what your gifts are and use them. They were given to you for a reason, not to squelch.  There is a purpose for your life that God intended you to utilize when He created you. Perhaps if you don’t know what that purpose is it should be the top item on your “bucket” list for 2015.  Celebrate Prince/Princess of the King. There is a party being thrown in your honor! It’s time to close the door on 2014 and walk through the open door of 2015.  The BEST is YET to come.

December 16, 2014

In ___________ You Trust. (Fill in the blank) Who Do You Trust?

I’ve been thinking about the word and the significance of the word, “trust,” such a tiny word, but one that means so much and is the cornerstone of any solid relationship.
Who do YOU trust?  Answer honestly; perhaps I should be more specific.  Who have you placed your trust in?
When I was a teenager, I was a counselor at a girl’s overnight camp in New Hampshire.  We use to play a game which involved trust.  Each one of us had a partner for the game.  We would stand in front of our partner with our backs facing them.  We would fall back and trust that our partner would catch us.  Who do you trust enough to catch you, should you fall?
Deeper still – do you trust yourself?  That may sound kind of strange, but think about it…  There have been times in my own life where I have made unwise decisions that have caused me anguish and pain. It has made me re-evaluate myself and the decisions I make.  I have to rebuild trust in myself by being wise in the decisions I make and part of that is learning to guard my heart because I realize that you can also be “too” trusting.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23)
On the most important level – do you trust God?  How do you view Him?  As a strong disciplinarian or as a loving, patient, forgiving Father? 
Our individual views on trust are built upon our life experiences. Honestly I will say that I have both been the recipient of having trust broken as well as breaking trust.  If you take a hard honest look at your own experiences with trust, what do you see?
Trust is fragile.  Trust is putting your faith in someone, your confidence in someone.  To me trust, friendship and love go hand in hand.  It also sets the foundation for any future relationships.  It is hard to trust if your trust has been broken in the past.  It is only natural to think that if you have been hurt, you will be hurt again.  Like someone who has been physically abused, and cringes when someone raises their hand.  When trust is broken the wound is deep and requires healing and restoration.  If you are the person who has broken the trust it requires self-reflection, why did you do what you did? It requires confession (and I don’t mean before another individual, I mean between you and God, after all it is a personal relationship you have with Him and once you have taken responsibility and gone before the Father, He will guide you on where to go from there and it will be some direction that puts you on a closer walk with Him and teaches you in a very personal way, His grace), and then forgiveness.  Including the forgiveness of yourself – which is a crucial part of true repentance. 
If you are the recipient of that broken trust, it requires the same, restoration, healing and forgiving the individual or situation that caused you pain.  Both sides are equally hard and painful to experience, without God both sides are impossible to heal.  But with God’s help healing and restoration in time are truly possible.
If we are completely honest with ourselves, we will admit that there are times when we have missed the mark; times when we have hurt someone unintentionally and maybe sometimes intentionally.  It depends upon your frame of mind, your life experiences and the type of individual you are.  There is a saying, “hurt people hurt people.”  Unless the “hurts” are healed in your life, unless you face them you either develop a “chip on your shoulder” or build up a wall that keeps anyone out, even someone who wants to know or love you for who you really are.  Our preconceived ideas of how an individual is based upon what we’ve experienced in the past, which is unfair to the person who is the recipient of hurts that have occurred in your life in the past, and doesn’t give that person a fair chance for you to know them.  You can short change yourself in coming to know someone who truly wants to know you for you by piling on them the hurts of past situations or un-trust or building up walls. You can tell if a person really cares about you if they are patient to gently prove to you that there is no need to keep those walls up.  This requires patience, love and someone who really is or wants to be a good friend. The proof is in the pudding and good friends are hard to come by, if you have someone like that in your life - count your blessings.  Sometimes we need to take time to heal and recover before we can move forward.
There are several scriptures that deal with the topic of trust, particularly and importantly about the Lord, because if you trust in Him, than the other trusts (yourself and other people) should follow suit, or the revelation that you need healing for trust issues will be revealed.  Perhaps these scriptures will give you (as they have for me me) food for thought:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
“And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.” (Psalms 9:10)
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)
“To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.” (Psalms 40:1-17)
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8)
I have learned over my time as a prodigal not to judge someone unless I have walked in their shoes.  I have also learned never to say never because you “never” know where life or your own decisions will take you.  You can easily become the person you swore you’d never be. It all comes down to trust. Trust in God, trust in yourself and trust in others.  So again I ask – who do YOU trust?  And if you don’t, what are you doing about it? Food for thought...

December 12, 2014

Grieving God

I would be remiss in writing from an “ex-prodigal” point of view on a Prodigal blog without bringing up this point, if you are an ex-prodigal there may be a lot of “aftermath” from your prodigal experience that you have to heal from or deal with in order to move forward.
The story about the prodigal son in the Bible doesn’t contain the details of how the Prodigal dealt with the aftermath of his experience.  Denying it occurred is not one that is healing or healthy.  Although the Father came running down the pathway to meet his son “half way” and forgave him and wrapped his arms around him in forgiveness, the fact of the matter is the son had grieved the father.
The sin of whatever our prodigal experiences have been has at one point, grieved Your Heavenly Father.  I am learning that when we put someone or something ahead of or in the place of God we not only need to ask for forgiveness (which He immediately gives us) we need to take time to restore our relationship with Him.  I’ve only just come into the realization of this.  Think about it because it makes sense…
You fell head over heels in love with someone (outside the will of God) or perhaps it was something else - some life style or addiction or developed sinful habit that  you gave your heart, your energy, your time, your devotion; time that you use to give to God (you fill in the blank because you know what the prodigal situation in your life is/was).  Your focus was taken off of God and put on that particular situation. You walked away from the Father.  You hurt Him.  You grieved Him. You did that which He commanded you not to do.  And now you have returned.  You have repented. You have realized the error of your ways.  Perhaps, like me you came back in a totally broken state.  Your heart a mess.  Your thoughts a mess.  All that you thought was real, blown completely away. Shattered. The person you trusted most, betrayed you.  You came back to your Father in a broken, shattered state. Numb, fragmented and feeling as though you were dying inside.  Your Father saw you coming down that pathway, returning home.  He saw your bowed head, your slumped shoulders, the dragging of your feet as you were weighed down with the weight of the world and your sin.  In spite of the pain and disappointment you caused your Father, He rejoiced at the sight of you!  He actually ran out the doors of His home and came RUNNING down the pathway to meet you and wrapped His arms around you.  Broken you.  The one who had disobeyed him. The one who had walked away from Him.  The one who had hurt Him.  He willingly forgave you.  For me, that humbled me beyond any words.  I had taken my heart from Him, gone against His word and gave my heart completely to someone else.  Someone who God knew would crush it. And they did. I allowed it to be crushed by my own willingness to give it to them so the fault was completely mine for going against what God’s Word told me to do. True repentance is taking responsibility for your own actions.  You can't take responsibility for anyone else's BUT your own.
Ex-prodigal, I write these words to you because it is important for you to know that restoration, and healing take time. Just because God has forgiven you (and He has!) you need to work on restoring your relationship with Him.  This is something that we need to acknowledge. I had not thought about it this way before, but the revelation hit me hard this week. I hurt God by my prodigal actions. He has forgiven me, but I need to heal and I need to rebuild my relationship with Him.  YOU DO TOO.  Maybe your prodigal experience was different than mine (it probably was) but whatever it was, you allowed it to occur.  You took your eyes off of God and onto something else.  Perhaps it is something you are still struggling with.  Allow yourself the time for restoration.  Allow yourself time to spend with your Father.  It is a personal relationship you have with Him.  It’s not only about repentance (which is recognizing that you did sin against God and turning from that sin) but it is about restoration.  When we have returned from a prodigal experience we have to allow ourselves time with God to restore that relationship.  We HURT God.  We grieved Him.  There are many places in the Bible that tell about times when God’s people grieved Him.
“The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.” (Genesis 6:5-6)
“And do not bring sorrow to God's Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30)
Jesus was fully man and fully God. I had forgotten about that… We can hurt or grieve God through our actions.  Therefore, I have realized that it takes time to restore a loving relationship with Him.  YES, He has forgiven you.  Yes, your sins are thrown in the sea of forgetfulness.
“Come now and let us reason together, says the LORD, though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool." (Isaiah 1:18)
"For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." (Psalm 103:11-12)
It is important that during your return you spend time in the Word of God and time alone with Him. This is the point I am at in my walk on my own return. Careful self-examination, healing and a rebuilding that relationship with Him is crucial and very important.  I had thought that if I just repented I could move forward, but the truth is – because my heart was shattered in the process of my own disobedience, in order to move forward I need to look back and I need to allow God to pick up each of those shattered pieces and to heal me so that I can move forward in the plans He has for my life.  I am not a very patient person, I never have been but this is something that God will not allow me to rush on.  Don’t be surprised dear Ex-Prodigal (or prodigal who is making his/her journey back home).  If this is where you are too.
There are things that God needs to heal.  However long you were in that prodigal state may require more healing and time before the Lord.  Restoration takes time.  He is able.  He is willing.  As hard as it is, you need to be too. And in the process of all this reflection, healing and prayer, do not allow ol'slewfoot to beat you up about your prodigal time.  You HAVE been forgiven.  Now you need to spend time healing in your relationship with your Father.  So that He can rebuild you, encourage you, love you up mighty much and allow YOU to fall deeper in love with Him.  This will eventually cause a new maturity in your walk and your commitment with Him.

Here is the good news, if you look throughout your Bible, you can see that most of the people God uses abundantly are those who at one time or another in their walk, experienced a prodigal time in their journey.   Think about it:

Abraham lied, Sarah laughed at God's promises.
Moses was a murderer, so was Paul
Samson had long hair and was a womanizer
David had an affair and was a murderer
Jonah ran from God
Rahab was a prostitute
Peter denied Christ
The disciples fell asleep while praying

To name just a few... The point is - God uses ordinary people to carry out His extraordinary plan.  His grace is sufficient.  In fact, once you come to the realization that it is NOTHING BUT His forgiveness, His love, His mercy AND His Grace you are well on the road to healing. 

“Lord, I am so sorry for grieving you. I didn't think of it that way.  You have feelings as I do.  I hurt you, when I sinned against your Word and commands.  I grieved you.  I am genuinely sorry.  I know you have forgiven me, now I ask you to restore me. Restore our relationship.  Renew our relationship.  As I gave you my heart when I accepted you as my Lord and Savior I take back my heart from wherever/whoever I gave it to and give it again to YOU. Forgive me, heal me, help me. Thank you for never having left me – even though I had walked away from you.  Renew our relationship and draw me nearer to You.  I love you Lord.  I give you my will, my heart and my hurt.  I give you ALL I am. Please take all the shattered pieces of me and mold them back into one piece, stronger and able to love you more.  I am not able to do this on my own.  The pieces are too many, but you created my heart in the first place. Please put all the pieces back together as only you know how. I love you Father – I renounce ALL that led me away from You and pray that You would guide my steps again from this way forward.  I can do nothing in and of my own self.  Be with me, guide me, heal me, help me, use me.  In the name of your Son, the one who willingly gave His life for mine.  I pray.  In Jesus precious name. AMEN.”

December 11, 2014

There is Nothing New Under The Sun...

Not Much Has Changed...
"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, "Look! This is something new"? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them. (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10)

When you really stop and think about it, not much has changed at all with regards to human nature since the times written in the Bible.  I found myself thinking of Sarah today (earlier called Sarai).  Sarah, the wife of Abraham who was unable to conceive, as a woman she must have felt a tremendous amount of frustration.  Think about it – all Sarah’s friends around her having babies, raising families and there she is waiting to conceive a child herself.  I can imagine the thoughts going through her head.
“What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I produce a child? Look at Sister So-and-So over there. SHE has a child.  What is the matter with me?”  How she must of coveted and emotionally beaten herself up over her lack of being able to conceive.  Not to mention the fact she must have driven Abraham crazy! “Come on! Let’s try it again!  And again!  And ohhhh Abraham, can you come here for a few minutes????...”  Did Abraham see her coming and then turn around and quickly go in the opposite direction?  We women have a way of focusing on something and not letting go.  I’m quite sure if things are the same now as they were then, women were no different.
God had promised Sarah and Abraham a child, but He did not say when.  How hard it must have been for the years to have passed and still that promise had not come to fruition.  How did Sarah not become bitter? As her friends children grew up around her how hard it must have been to continue believing that God would honor that promise.  I can easily understand how Sarah reviewed the promise in her head over and over and over again.  “Maybe God meant it this way… Maybe I need to do this…” Sarah reached a point where she began to question HOW God would provide that child.  “Maybe I misunderstood Him… Maybe that child was not to come from out of my own body… Perhaps my interpretation of His promise was misunderstood…”   Desperation makes us do strange things.
Can you imagine the state of her desperation out of having a child by making the decision to give Abraham her maid servant to conceive a child?  Now I don’t know about YOU, but I cannot even imagine the amount of frustration it would take ME to turn the man I love over to another woman to sleep with and conceive a child.  (Honestly, she MUST have been desperate!)  Which is what Sarah did, and Ishmael was conceived.  Sarah took matters into her own hands instead of trusting in God’s promise and decided to “help” God.  
“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to bear children for him. But she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “The Lord has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” And Abram agreed with Sarai’s proposal. So Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian servant and gave her to Abram as a wife.
So Abram had sexual relations with Hagar, and she became pregnant. But when Hagar knew she was pregnant, she began to treat her mistress, Sarai, with contempt. Then Sarai said to Abram, “This is all your fault! I put my servant into your arms, but now that she’s pregnant she treats me with contempt. The Lord will show who’s wrong—you or me!” (Genesis 16:1-4)
The fact of the matter is that God doesn’t need our help.  When we try to “help” God we create a colossal mess.  This is yet another perfect example of how not much has changed since the days of the Bible.  Whenever we try to “help” God we make the same kind of messes.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
(Isaiah 55:8-9)
So many times we forget that God sees and knows so much more than we do and what a mess we make when we try to get into the mix of what His plans are for our own lives.
This is true even for the most mature believer, because our thoughts are not God’s thoughts it is hard to be patient and wait on answers to prayer.  The frustration over a prayer request is not something that has changed with the passage of time.  The questions Sarah must have asked the Lord are still the same questions we put before Him now.
“WHY Lord am I still waiting?  Is not the Creator of Heaven and Earth able to answer MY measly little prayer?”
Coveting sets in as we look around us and wonder WHY Sister so-and-so seems to have it so easy and we are still waiting on an answer He’s already given to HER. 
God wants us to trust Him.  Trust that He knows what is best.  Trust that He is not witholding out on us.  Trust that He is able.  Trust in HIM.
Trust does not come easy.  Faith does not come in easy but it is what He desires.  Are we going to trust Him or put our faith on our own selves and “help God out.”
Later on in the story, Isaac is born to Sarah and Abraham.  The promise that God gave to them has been answered.  How surprised Abraham must have felt when God requested Him to sacrifice the answer to their prayer (Isaac) on an alter before Him.
“Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” (Genesis 22:1-2)

 Abraham and Sarah had waited YEARS for this answered prayer and now God was asking Abraham to take Isaac up to be sacrificed.  I wonder if Sarah was aware of this, I don’t think it is mentioned whether or not she was told what was going to occur as Abraham in obedience began his journey with Isaac to do what the Lord had requested.  Personally I would not be surprised if Abraham had kept this from her until after the fact (although I don’t know, that’s my own two cents worth...).
Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” (Genesis 22:3-18)

Our thoughts are not God’s thoughts.  What an amazing amount of faith Abraham displayed in this true story before God.  He completely trusted God.  Oh that more of us would walk in that assurance, obedience and trust that God has our best interests at heart.  That God has plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11).

I know that my own faith is lacking. That the trials and tribulations I experience in my life are allowed by God so that I will draw nearer to Him and trust in Him. I rant and I rave and I get upset with Him.  Thank God for His love, His forgiveness, His grace and His patience.

Throughout the journey of each of our lives we are given a choice, we can try to direct our own path or we can patiently trust that God will provide for all our needs that He knows better than we do what should be the desires of our hearts.  It is not easy to be obedient.  There are many examples throughout the Bible, just as in the story of Sarah and Abraham where people have tried to “help” God and have made a mess of things.  What God did with those people is use their “mess” to give us a “message” so that we can learn from them using their experiences as an example.  That is one of the main reasons why the Bible should be used as our guidebook. I know that is “easier said than done” a lot of times. Our feelings in this day and era are no less intense than those back in the Biblical days, although I do believe that maybe even more so because we live in such a microwave society where we want what we want when we want it and now!

Thank God for His patience.  Thank God for His love, Thank God for His patience. Thank God for His amazing grace.  Maybe it is a good thing that He knows our thoughts before we even think them?

“You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” (Psalms 139:1-6)

Nothing comes as a surprise to Him.  It is one of the reasons why I see no point in hiding my thoughts or my actions before Him.  How ridiculous is that?  I never could understand why Adam and Eve “hid” from God after they ate from the tree that He commanded them not to. We cannot hide from God.  He knows all and He sees all…

Waiting on God is not easy, no matter if it was back them or in the here and now.  Using wisdom when we make our life’s choices is something that will help us as we go forward in our walk with Him.  I struggle with this myself because patience is not one of my strong suits.  I talk with God through prayer as I write to you, my blog reader; I tend to have “temper tantrums” before my Father.  “When?! Why?! Why not?! I want it!” Type of responses to the moments in my life when He seems slow in answering my prayer requests.  Since I have come out of a prodigal experience I tend to still feel the “smarting” of that experience enough to apply that hard lesson to where I am currently at in my walk with the Lord which makes me more apt to “think” twice before I decide to “help God along” in answering whatever prayer request I am waiting upon.  No matter what my current request before Him is, I am in no way anxious to experience “burning my hand” again on a stove I was told previously not to touch.  Or as the saying goes, “once bitten, twice shy.”

We have a choice, we have freewill. We can either choose to learn quickly from the current life lesson we are in OR we can have to repeat the class over and over again until we learn what it is that God is trying to teach us. (And something we clearly forget is that usually it is for our OWN good).  I don’t know about you, but I want to learn what it is I need to learn so that I can move forward, graduate and go on to the next class, because the truth of the matter is that as long as we have breathe in our body, we will always be learning and always be growing. Until we are finally with Him.