Let us begin

Lately, there are a number of songs that talk about going back in time to tell yourself what you know now. A chance to tell yourself to walk away from a toxic relationship or to take the job you turned down. While this perspective seems appealing, I am not sure I would take it if given the opportunity.

Yes, there are decisions I made in my past that I regret. People I hurt because of my selfishness or insecurity. I made some pretty foolish decisions when I was eighteen, some that continue to impact me thirty years later. It has become part of who I am and who I am not.

I know as a believer, that God has had a plan for my life since before I was born. I know there were times in my life that the very prayers of someone kept me from danger. I also know that there were times when I chose to do something that was not God-honoring, sometimes I chose to do that deliberately. While I cannot go back and fix it, I know that I can learn from it.

Psalm 18:30-32 says, As for God, his way is perfect; The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure (NIV).

Of the regrets that I can name, the ones that cause the most sadness to me are the ones I knew better than to do, but I did it anyway. In a way, I think that is the definition of regret, I knew better that to do it, but I did it anyway. My poor decisions, my failures, even the losses I experienced, were part of the path that led me to Christ.

When I came to see that all these choices I had made were never going to bring me the happiness, the contentment, the grace, mercy, or forgiveness I needed– that is when I cried out to God. And that is when He answered me. Not with fire, thunder, or lightning but with tenderness. With the very grace and love I needed.

Child, I have been waiting for you to call my name. I have wanted to pick you up, dust you off, mend your brokenness, and wipe your tears. But you never called out to me until now.

God is not a belligerent dictator, He is a gentleman. He will not come where He is not invited. But oh, Best Beloved, when God is invited into your life and heart. Wow. I learned that day, that He has the power to take my regrets and turn them into blessings. He did that day, He still does today.

Mother Teresa once said, “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We only have today. Let us begin.” That was the lesson I learned from God the day He came into my life. I would not be able to go back and change the life I had lived before that day. I would not be able to tell the future, to know fully what would happen tomorrow. But while it was still called today, I could experience His grace. His mercy and learn the lesson that the past is in the past for a reason.

Now, the enemy is going to try and attack any way and any chance he can, to stop me from growing in Christ, to keep my story from being used to encourage others. It is what he does. He wants to bring up the regrets and the failures and tell me that I cannot possibly be used by God for God’s purposes and glory. But that is a lie.

God is in the business of taking people’s messes and turning them into messages. Scripture is full of story after story that show His redemptive power. Some of my favorite stories include the woman at the well in John 4 and the woman caught in adultery in John 8. Each time Jesus met the woman, their story was anything but a fairytale. But instead of taking them to task and in one case stoning her for her sins, Jesus turned the story on its head. He told the woman at the well that there was a way to get Living Water, to never thirst again. She had made a mess of thirsting for love from men who would never satisfy her thirst for eternal healing,

The woman in John 8 was seeking love in the wrong places and had made a complete mess of things. Jesus, who by all authority had the right to cast the first stone, as the only person there who was without sin, did nothing. He gave the woman another chance. A chance to change her mess into a message of grace. Of mercy and forgiveness.

Best Beloved, let us leave the past where it belongs- behind us. The future is somewhere on the horizon. Today is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:4).

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Stuffing and Speaking

I have been quiet for a while now. Life has been busy, I keep telling myself. Truth is, I haven’t been sure I would be able to start writing and then I wasn’t sure if I would be able to stop.

In the last eleven months my husband and I have separated. We are in the early stages of filing and before summer is over, I will be divorced. It is a word that cuts me to the quick.

While I have had nearly a year to adjust to this loss and to adjust to living alone, I also have had to adjust my heart. When he first told me he was leaving and filing for divorce last May, I felt my spirit torn into pieces .

My reaction was to fight the words I had heard. To scream and cry, to rant and get angry. I laid on the bare ground and cried until I could hardly breath from sobbing.

I did that for two days.

Then I got up, went to my church, and met with some of the pastors and pastoral staff. We prayed and they listened. I went to one on one meetings with a member of the Spiritual Care team for twelve weeks as we worked through the emotional highs and lows of my new life.

Whoever coined the phrase “new normal” should be smacked. There is nothing normal about newness.

Since the initial announcement my husband has moved into his own house. We have been healing our tender hearts and restoring our friendship. I go to his house on Sundays after church, picking up coffee for us on the way.

We sit and talk, sharing how our lives are going. What happened at our jobs in the last week, what might be happening in the next week for us. It is like a balm for my soul.

I didn’t want divorce. I didn’t want to continue in the broken cycle we had been in for years. Precious friends prayed fervently for God to come in and restore the marriage. We shared Bible verses, prayed in agreement as I went through the house and anointed the doorways to each room. Praying for healing, a miracle.

All this time I have been stuffing the rawness of it all.

I didn’t want to subject either of us to someone’s snarky comments about how they knew it would never last. I didn’t want anyone to think they had to pick sides.

I didn’t want someone to come to our sons and ask questions that were not theirs to answer.

I believed I had to show everyone that I was a bad a** chick and I could do everything I needed to do on my own. Without a man. This may be true in many ways, but I also learned how much I do want a partner in life to lean on as life continues.

I have learned that I am more capable than I realized. I have replaced faucets, repaired faucets, bought my own chain saw. I process my own birds for the freezer, I have bought furniture, built a chicken coop, and ordered propane for the house.

I forgot what I really could do. The last year has been a renaissance for me and I have embraced it.

I have embraced my faith in ways I never knew I would and I have also embraced myself in ways I never imagined.

My heart is learning what it means to forgive, to ask forgiveness, and to let go while still holding on. It has been an adventure and a challenge to experience.

Best Beloved, hear me, please. Do not stuff the pain, the tenderness, or the joy because it may not be understood. Share it. Share it with your inner circle, share it with the person you see at church.

If nothing else has been learned during this last year of quarantine and uncertainty, I have learned the need to speak the truth. Speak it with love, not judgment. Speak it.

Stuffing is only good for plush animals and turkeys at holiday dinners.

Blessings,

oxoxoxo

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Hidden things

I used to drive a cute, little, compact car in college. It was the perfect size to take back and forth as I commuted to school, went out with friends, and went on trips.

As I drove to school, I was often rushing to class after staying up late to complete an assignment. Even though I knew I was supposed to check the oil when I filled the tank, I would often put it off.

The damage wasn’t something that happened right away. In fact, I couldn’t tell you when it happened, but somewhere along the line, the oil level went down further and further.

I continued to drive the car, even after the exhaust from the car started to change.

I finally admitted there was a problem, when a police officer stopped me because the exhaust was now a danger for those who were in traffic with me.

When my dad and brother took the engine apart, they replaced and repaired multiple parts that were damaged because I had not done the simplest task- checking the oil level.

After nearly 100 hours of labor and over $200 spent on parts, they had repaired the engine. It was quite a feat; they were proud of what they had done and so were my mom and I.

When they started the car, they learned that there was a crack in the head. No amount of work, parts, money, or time would repair that crack. It was broken for good.

It was a very costly lesson.

*Sarah’s marriage (see It was the underwear) was just like the engine.

The simple task of taking the time to sit down as a husband and wife to discuss things in their relationship, was not being done. The lack of communication allowed the issues to fester.

When there are underlying issues that are not acknowledged, the relationship pressure is going to build. Tempers will flare and hot words are spoken that will inflict pain and push away the other person.

No amount of repair, time, money, etc. would replace the simple task of adding oil as it was needed. Just like no amount of time, energy, submission, etc. could repair the damage in Sarah’s marriage.

It would take a complete replacement of the broken foundation that was under their marriage. Unless both Sarah and her husband were willing to work on it it was not going to change.

There comes a time when it is necessary to speak plainly. Even when it is painful. Cars are declared totaled, marriages are declared broken.

God is the only One- the ONLY ONE- with the power to change hearts. To mend relationships. To heal marriages.

Only God. There is no mechanic, no doctor, no medication, that can restore and redeem and heal. Only God can do that.

Only God.

Best Beloved, there are no easy words. No platitudes.

Only prayer. Only God.

Precious One, pray for your marriage. If you are single, pray for the marriages in your life. Pray for your future spouse.

If you have issues in your past get help, counseling, seek a mentor, a support group.

The enemy has claimed too many marriages, too many relationships.

It’s time to do the most important thing- bring God into your life, your heart, your marriage, your healing.

Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain, (Psalm 127:1 ESV).

Sending love,

oxoxoxo

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It was the underwear

“Get it together or I’m gone,” he said with I dare you to defy me hidden in his voice. Sarah* knew she couldn’t give a retort, that would only feed the fire, she just stood there as he walked away.

After years of hearing that she didn’t do as he told her, didn’t show respect for him, she was tired. Worn down. Gray. Like an old barn, neglected through the years, losing the luster and gleam of the fresh red paint it once had.

Sarah wasn’t always this way, her friends remember when she was excited about life and where it might take her. The adventures she would have and the people she might meet.

She had been married long enough now that she was a faded image of herself. Over the years, as her husband’s emotional and mental health began to fall apart, she found his explosive temperament would appear in verbal, emotional, and occasionally physical abuse whenever demands of the moment were not met.

She would meet him toe-to-toe and fight back if it became physical, but this was not the for better or worse she had been promised in her wedding vows.

She found herself living with less and less emotional commitment from her husband. As if he had been a pool of water that slowly dried up, unable to be refilled.

She did everything she knew how to help fill him up again. She read books on being a good wife, went to counseling with the directive to “figure out why you aren’t listening to me.”

No matter what she did, it never seemed to fill the pool of his heart. Sarah’s sense of self began to shrink more and more- until almost nothing was left.

As she was washing her hair one morning, she realized just how far she had gone to submit to the ever changing emotions of her husband.

She generally would not ask for new clothes. She wasn’t a shopping-kind-of-girl. She wouldn’t even ask for new undergarments, because she didn’t want to spend money that might be earmarked for something else.

So when it was absolutely necessary to get new underwear, she would get white cotton pairs. The simplest, most inexpensive pairs, thereby spending as little as possible from the budget.

She sat up straight in the tub, where she was bathing. Had it really come down to underwear?

When her husband announced he was filing for divorce not long afterward, she knew she wouldn’t fight him about it.

She loved him deeply. Even with his brokenness, she had seen and experienced the wonderful blessing of his heart and joy. But he had allowed his brokenness to take over everything.

She knew he was better than how he had been acting. She never would have accepted his proposal if he wasn’t.

Sarah spent time in prayer, fasting, and seeking wise counsel for the best way to move forward and still keep a tender heart toward her husband. In the words and prayers of dear sisters-in-Christ she found strength and healing for her heart.

As she began her life apart from her husband, one of the first things she purchased was colorful undergarments. Nothing from a boutique shop, but still something special for her, to remind herself of her worth. To remind herself that she did not have to fade away.

The glossy red paint has found its luster again.

*not her real name

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Soul worth

When I was in high school I struggled with my personal value. My self-worth was so jumbled between what my family poured into me and what my crush said about me.

My folks spoke hundreds, probably thousands, of words of affirmation and encouragement over me. But I couldn’t accept them. I dismissed what they said as something they were required to say as my mom and dad.

By the time I started my senior year I was
starving for validation. I was so hungry for someone to say I was worthwhile, that I ended up in situations that were dangerous. Situations that led to my being sexual assaulted and sexually abused.

I began to believe that my value could only be measured by what my body could do.

What I could not see in those dark seasons of my life was that I was confusing my body’s worth with my soul’s worth.

I believed the enemy who whispered in my ear through magazines, movies, and television that I could not measure up. I was too short, too aggressive, too fat.

The enemy was well on his way to destroying the very life God had protected since my conception.

Thankfully, the enemy did not win.

When I was first engaged, my husband wrote Proverbs 31:10 under a framed picture of me that he had on his desk. The verse says, A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

My husband knew my worth and value. He made a point to tell me and show me how much I meant to him. It changed how I saw myself.

Not all spouses or families understand the need we have to be valued.

When we are not given the love we need from those who are supposed to love us- we are more vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks. We can be so starved for love, affection, affirmation, or validation that we fall into the trap set by the enemy.

It’s how the attention of someone who isn’t your spouse becomes intoxicating and soon you begin to seek that person out so that you can experience the sensation again and again.
Then what seems like all of a sudden, you’re having an affair.

But it wasn’t all of a sudden- it was the continual steps toward that person, instead of toward your spouse.

While the affair may last for a while, it will never fully satisfy the longing your heart has to be known and valued by your husband or your wife.

By the time most people realize they are not going to be satisfied by the affair, their marriage is over and the damage they have caused is severe.

I have been on both sides of this- as the person being betrayed and the person being tempted.

The betrayal is painful and devastating. It makes you doubt anything that is said by the other person. Even if they say the sky is blue and the grass is green, you will still look outside to check.

As the one being tempted, you scold yourself for being so foolish. You begin to mistrust your ability to make decisions. You wonder how you can get back to the real love you once knew.

It is why my heart clings to what God says about me. Why I cherish the song Priceless by For King and Country so much.

Over and over I have heard these words sung over me by my Heavenly Father.

I see you dressed in white
Every wrong made right
I see a rose in bloom
At the sight of you
Oh, so priceless
Irreplaceable, unmistakable, incomparable
Darling, it’s beautiful
I see it all in you
Oh, so priceless
No matter what you’ve heard
This is what you’re worth
More than all the money or the diamonds and pearls
Oh, this is who you are
Yeah, this is who you are

(Songwriters: Ben Backus / Joel Smallbone / Luke Smallbone / Seth Mosley / Tedd Tjornhom)

My prayer is for each of us to know and fully believe the words God speaks over us. We are precious and prized and valued and loved and treasured above all things.

May we never grow deaf to those words.

Blessings,
oxoxo

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Choosing joy

I spoke with a precious friend about some of the difficult things I have been facing recently. She commented that my decision to choose joy in this season, when she would be deep in the pit, touched her heart deeply.

I hadn’t really thought about the choice I had made. I said that joy was like a tightrope stretched over the pit and it was something I balanced on every day.

The image stuck with me after our conversation. What was it about joy anyway, that drew me to it?

I have often joked about being a Pollyanna. Positive, finding the best in the middle of difficult situations, choosing happiness over hardness and bitterness.

In my lifetime I have faced some heart-wrenching difficulties and I could have grown very angry and allowed my anger to harden my heart. I am sure many people would say I was justified in my anger and bitterness.

But bitterness is a cancer that eats away from the inside and in the end leaves only the shell of the heart and soul.

I have met too many people who are empty shells and I feel both a deep sorrow for them and disappointment too, that they didn’t fight to keep their joy.

Keeping my heart and soul intact is a conscious decision that I make daily. Sometimes by the hour.

It’s the very first thing that the enemy comes to steal from us. It’s the very first thing I am determined to keep. If he steals our joy then he can get access to our faith. He can replace them with dissatisfaction and doubt.

That’s what he did to Eve. That’s what he continues to try with us as believers. He cannot steal our souls from the Lord, once we are His, but he can steal our contentment. He can challenge our trust that God desires the best for you and me.

I am not devoid of sorrow or anger or grief. I experience those emotions and I will cry, rant, and rave. But I do not remain in those areas.

Earlier this year, I received news from a loved one which threatened to decimate all that I treasure. I spent two days in anguish. Unable to eat or sleep, I cried, screamed, prayed, and begged God to tell me it was just a nightmare.

It wasn’t. I am still hip deep in the middle of it.

I could sit down in my sorrow and allow it to seep into my bones. Some would even say I was supposed to do that. Many who know what I am walking through would expect it.

But who is bigger? My sorrow or my God?

Scripture tells us over and over again that there are times and seasons for all things. I firmly agree.

I grieved the news then and I am still grieving the news. I am still able to celebrate with my friends and family when blessings come in their lives.

My sorrow has a place. It will be living there for some time. But I will not allow it to cross the boundaries I have put around it.

There are still reasons to celebrate. Reasons to laugh, clap, and cheer in life. It is here that I find the courage to keep choosing joy.

Joy does still come in the morning.

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Liar, liar

Now the serpent was more crafty than the other wild animals that the LORD God had made, (Genesis 3:1 NIV).

Every time I read this verse, I think of the old Nickelodeon movies, where the music would warn the audience of the trouble that was coming. The leading character was, of course, oblivious to the danger lurking around the corner.

When we are walking with the Lord and something tempting catches our eye, much like Eve and the fruit, we do not hear the audience yelling at the screen that danger is ahead, we only see the mesmerizing color of the fruit and that it is pleasing to the eye.

We no longer remember the warnings we’ve been given by God that there would be consequences for our actions. We only see the things that the enemy wants us to see.

So we eat. Then suddenly, we remember the warnings. But it is too late.

There are consequences now.

The enemy never cared about the consequences. He just wanted to see us fall. To try to bring shame on God for caring about us as His children.

Best Beloved, please heed this warning. The consequences of our sins, the falling to temptations, is grave. Remember the serpent? He asked Eve the question, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

He knew the truth. He knew what God had said. (Side note), Scripture says “The LORD God,” the enemy couldn’t use the word LORD, as he was not willing to bend under God’s Lordship another reason to give pause when he speaks to us.

When we, as believers, do not heed the warnings we have clearly been given by God, the consequences we will have may not be visible at first. The death God spoke of did not come instantly to Adam and Eve. Not a physical death, but the relational death was instant, the communion and deep covenant relationship died the very moment Eve bit into the fruit.

That is exactly what sin does.

We may not die physically, but our intimate relationship, the deep fellowship we shared with God is broken. It may not be felt at first, we may be enjoying the new found relationship with someone who is not our spouse, even claiming the innocence of it. We do not see the ripple effect of our choices.

But the enemy knows. The enemy has set before us the deep cliff and we are starting to tumble over the edge.

He is a master of deception, the father of lies. He is hungry to kill and destroy all that God has made. He wants to bring God down and simply put, he will use us to do it every chance he can.

Marriages, families employers and employees, friendships, all of it-anything that resembles the covenant community that God desires with His creation will be and is under attack.

From the first look, if there is a tingle that comes inside that entices, that is the very time to run away. As Casting Crowns says in their song “The Slow Fade”, It’s the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings…

David and Bathsheba is one of the examples that comes to mind (see 2 Samuel 11 and 12). David stayed home when the other kings had gone off to war in the spring. Then he went to to rooftop at night, saw Bathsheba bathing on the rooftop of her home. Instead of immediately walking away, he looked again. He liked what he saw. he was the king, after all. So he had her summoned.

The consequences of this decision, impacted multiple people. Not just David, not just Bathsheba. By deciding 1), not walk away, 2), to summon her to his palace, and 3) to sleep with her; David ignored every single opportunity to walk back to his fellowship with God.

When David tried to hide his sin, he commanded Bathsheba’s husband to come back from the war, hoping he’d sleep with his wife and cover up the pregnancy of David and Bathsheba’s affair.

As we know, Batheshba’s husband was more honorable than his king. So David gave orders to have him killed. No, not directly, but the orders were to put him back on the front lines and then have the troops pull away in the middle of the fighting and leave him exposed to the enemy so he would be killed.

It wasn’t until Nathan the prophet came and told him the story of the rich man and the poor man that David saw the impact of his sins and confessed he had sinned against the LORD (2 Samuel 12:13).

O Best Beloved, the enemy lies. He will always lie. He will never want the best for you. Only the best for himself and the ultimate destruction of God through God’s creation.

This is why Scripture is so very clear that we are to be prepared for battle. We are to wear the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). We are to take every thought captive for Christ alone (2 Corinthians 10:5). We are to resist the devil and he will flee from us (James 4:7).

Tell a fellow believer of your struggles. The secrets we battle are what will bind us fast, speaking them out in the open helps us from being entangled in it. Get involved in a support group, surround yourself with those who will hold you up in prayer and hold you accountable.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings (1 Peter 5:6-9, bold mine).

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I coulda had a …

Growing up there was a popular commercial for the vegetable drink, V-8. It would show someone making a poor decision for a snack or meal, like a candy bar or a donut. Another person would come up to them and smack them on the forehead and say, “You could have had a V-8.”

I had a similar moment tonight, when I realized I was focusing on the depth and breadth of a poor choice instead of using that time to be praying about it.

The enemy was using the sorrow I felt for the situation I witnessed to drag me into the brokenness, too. I had become so focused on how far down this person was willing to fall that I forgot about praying for him/her to be drawn up and out of the pit.

It was my own V-8 moment.

I am choosing to pray over the situation and for the decisions her/she is currently making, instead of sitting in the bleachers wringing my hands as I watch things fall apart. I am praying for a mind to become dissatisfied with the behavior. For a heart to come awake again and seek the healing process of restoration.

For a willingness and desire to cut the strings that have grown into ropes of bondage tying this precious person to his/her choices.

My focus on the devolution became my own devolution. Instead of praying where I was, I felt that knowing or even glimpsing the wrong would give me insight. Much like the person who wants to know how to pray for another, only to unravel into gossip.

This is not the way Christ explained prayer.

I am to be praying in a place of faith – that God knows the needs of the one for whom I am praying. I don’t have to keep digging for the “badness” of another. I can pray right now and trust God for the rest.

Paul put it this way: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans,” (Romans‬ ‭8:26‬ ‭NIV).‬‬

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Traveling

(These are the thoughts of woman up too late in the middle of the night, because a song continues to play and play and play in her mind. )

For weeks I have been waking up with the song, “Land of my Sojourn” by Rich Mullins in my head. Tonight I woke to it again, this time on a continuous loop, where the words begin to jumble and the volume gets louder and louder. I finally had to get out of bed, just so I wouldn’t toss and turn and wake the hubby.

I have tried to listen to the words again and again, seeking to glean the message I was being given. I’ve said before that God sings over me, over us, while we sleep according to Zephaniah 3:17. It brings me great comfort during times of struggle and trial to know that He is staying up all night to watch over us (Psalm 121:3).

Nobody tells you when you get born here
How much you’ll come to love it
And how you’ll never belong here
So I call you my country
And I’ll be lonely for my home
And I wish that I could take you there with me (Land of my Sojourn)

If you are familiar at all with Rich Mullins, then you know, O Best Beloved, that he was much like a sojourner while living here. He traveled with a sense of never fully belonging to this world, as he longed for the next. He kept a loose grip on the things he touched here. In the way he lived, simply and with humility.

I don’t mean to canonize him, yet, there is something about the way he knew this wasn’t “it” and there was instead, so much more on the other side of Heaven. It is enough to give pause.

Paul wrote about his longing for Heaven as well in Philippians 1:20-26, describing how he longed to be with his fellow believers, but he also longed for Heaven. It was this understanding that we were not made fr this world, but to travel through it, sharing the Gospel and living as Christ to draw others to Him that pulls at me.

I have a son who has spent the better part of the past two years traveling around the US, staying with friends, going from California to West Virginia. From Nebraska to Arizona, to Alaska, and Illinois.

Some would see his actions and think that he was wasting his time and money by not being “more responsible.” I sometimes wonder if they missed the point? He is living much like a sojourner. His hands are empty of much of the toil and struggle . He has very few bills, a circle of people who love and care about him and who also encourage him in his faith journey .

As a young man he may make foolish decisions, it’s part of life, to learn these lessons. Yet there is something about the freedom of having no mortgage, no children, no sense of dread when the bank account goes down to $28 and there are still $987 due to be sent to some company or another for their services.

I am 50 years old, I have all this things that society says are supposed to make me fulfilled. A house, two amazing sons, a great job, friends and family, a man I have loved for thirty years. These things are supposed to fulfill me.

Yet, I find the irony of our Constitution’s Preamble which includes the words, “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” There is no guarantee in “capturing” it. We may pursue it all our lives and never have it.

I believe that is why Scripture doesn’t tell us to seek happiness, but instead to have joy. Joy has a depth and breadth that is far reaching. It is not dependent on the weather, the relationship you have with your spouse- who you might have just fought with a moment ago.

Joy comes from the contentment of walking with Christ and knowing HE is the source of your peace not as the world brings, but as it flows from Heaven itself.

A sense that no matter what may be happening right now in the world, it cannot change the fact that you can breathe in and out the deeper and richer purposes of God and His plan and His love for you and those around you.

Make of it what you choose, but know this: as I continue to walk this world, I am choosing to remember that while I love the green fields, the craggy mountains of the west, and the raucous sound of my ducks and chickens in the morning. This world is temporal.

My forever home is not on this earth. It is not dependent on the balance in the bank, if my husband loves me forever, or if my sons get the best paying job.

My true home, the one I am traveling toward, is in Heaven. This is the root of Rich’s song. He knew there was more. So much more.

There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.” ~ C.S. Lewis

When we focus on this world, with the stories of hatred, crime, loss, sickness, struggle and strife, we can lose heart and wonder what we are doing here and what is the purpose.

O Best Beloved, it is here that we must choose what or Who we will follow after. We must choose as Joshua commanded the Israelites to do.

Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; cast aside the gods your fathers served beyond the Euphrates and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if it is unpleasing in your sight to serve the LORD, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD!” (Berean Study Bible, Joshua 24:14-15).

May we be as Reepicheep when he reached the far shores and Aslan’s Country, “I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…Come further up, come further in!”
― C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

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Warrior queens

In this age of social distancing, it can make it difficult to get together in a small group and complete a Bible study. At least that’s what I thought.

Enter YouVersion Bible app.

I have been able to participate in Bible studies with two other women who live nearly 500 miles away. We each read the devotionals at our pace, no expectations for completion, just the opportunity to encourage each other.

We are in different stages in life, seeing the passage and the Scripture from the lenses of our life experiences. Yet the sections of each day’s devotion seem to speak to us across the miles. Often pointing out the same sentence that jumped off the screen into our hearts and minds.

I do not expect to return to church for a long while, due to our current environment. I listen to Bible teachers online, on podcasts, and read transcripts of sermons to grow as a believer.

I am grateful for these “virtual” sisters, who can walk with me and encourage me to be a woman of faith, even when the world says everything is hopeless.

Best Beloved, wherever you are right now, in the States or another country, we can still encourage each other in the Word, while taking care of ourselves and others.

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:25 NIV-1984).

Years ago, I led a group of women in a Bible study. We were all in our 20s, single, trying to figure out what life was going to hold for us. Now twenty-five years later, all of us have been married, some divorced and married again. Between us we have 17 children, we’ve lived in nearly a dozen states, in and out of touch as life has gone on.

But one word can bring us all back together, remembering the stories we created together, the sweet moments of fellowship, and the bittersweet truth that we are criss-crossed all over the United States.

We were and still are Warrior Queens, standing on the Truth of who we are in Christ, the reality that we hold the boundaries for our homes and families, and the precious, precious fact that we are still “doing life together” even while apart.

Precious Ones, the enemy will always strive to get us alone, whispering that we have no one who knows and understands us. But God created us for community. It doesn’t matter if the community is the cul-de-sac or social media. We are not alone.

So let us continue to meet together and celebrate the ways God has grown us and continues to grow us into Christ-likeness.

Blessings,

oxoxoxo

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Lingerie

Years ago, the husband of a friend of mine would buy lingerie for her from an intimates boutique. It was obvious when he gave the gift to her, that he had spent time, thought, and felt a deep love and caring for her because of the selection.

As time went on, their marriage became hectic, jobs, kids, day-to-day life filled their calendars. Instead of coming to her with his burdens, as they had previously done, he chose to look for a distraction from his day-to-day life.

He began having an affair.

At first, he attempted to keep up appearances in his circle of friends and family. But he had married a discerning wife, a woman of God, who knew she was no longer the apple of his eye.

She began praying that the secret would come into the open, no matter what it might be, so that it didn’t fester any longer in the dark.

Then came the confirmation, but not in words. In a simple piece of clothing.

Her husband gave her lingerie from a discount dollar store.

Best Beloved, Scripture is so very clear. Where we focus our time, our energy, will become the very place where we plant our hearts and ultimately our souls.

[F]or where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21 NASB). *

Jesus taught that where ever our treasures are, that is where we would find our hearts.

If our time and energy are poured into our marriage and our spouses pour in their time and energy, there is a strong probability that the marriage will grow and last.

If we exert our time, energy, and resources into anything else in place of our marriage, we have begun our marriage’s death. It is simply where we choose to put our focus.

Dear Ones, let me be clear- if you are in an abusive marriage, no amount of obedience, perfection seeking, and hoop jumping is going to bring the other person around.

It is never the intent to put yourself or your children in jeopardy just to “fix” the situation.

Find safety and support for you and your children. Your spouse has work to do on their own before he or she would be in a position to work with you on the marriage.

You are of infinite worth and value to God and you matter more than your marital status (Isaiah 43:4).

Precious Child of God. I don’t know what your marriage looks like today. I only know what mine is like right now. I do pray that you and your spouse are pouring your time and energy into each other in positive, supportive, and reassuring ways.

I truly pray for you both to stop and truly look at the places you’ve put time and energy. Are they of eternal value? Are they selfish or selfless?

Are you drawing arrows to propel your marriage forward? Or are you arming yourself to inflict pain on your spouse?

When I accepted my husband’s proposal, God gave me this verse, which became our wedding verse and has followed us for many years. No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him— (1 Corinthians 2:9 NIV 1984).

But know, if my husband and I were to be divorced tomorrow, it would not negate this verse. God would still be on the throne, I would still be His daughter, and I would still not be able to imagine what He has planned for me and my life.

It is the same for the friend I mentioned at the beginning of the post. Her value did not diminish because she was no longer married. God has grown her in ways no one could have seen. She certainly could not have imagined.

God’s love is unconditional. It is eternal (see Romans 8:38-39 and Hebrews 13:5). May we be focused on this same approach with love toward our family and our spouses.

Blessings,

xooxox

*see also: Matthew 6:22, Isaiah 33:6, Luke 12:34, 2 Corinthians 4:18, Matthew 12:34, Proverbs 4:23, Deuteronomy 4:9, Proverbs 23:19, Proverbs 4:7*

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