Stay ~ Influence ~ Occupy

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My question is this: Are you having a bad day? Are you feeling insecure, angry, threatened?  If so, don’t withdraw! Stay engaged and fight for your space and your place… Sometimes life IS just hard. Sometimes things are coming at you all at once – you feel attacked maybe, things seem to go wrong and things start to pile up all around you. It can be very overwhelming!

It’s times like this that I want to exit out of life sometimes. I want to withdraw and quit participating with those around me. (But I don’t.)

Does that ever happen to you?

First of all, I’m not really talking about suicide here although I suppose it could apply. I’m talking about the feeling we sometimes have of being hurt and maybe overwhelmed by everything that is going on around us and the desire to withdraw from the game – pick up your marbles and go home where it’s “safe” and no one can hurt you anymore.

The problem with that is, we can’t really afford to bow out. Why? Because we each occupy a specific space, uniquely our own and it’s important that we stick around and fill it. If we leave, we will be missed and not only that, there are things we do that will not get done.

Don’t believe me?

 It’s like this…

God is so big that He knows each and every encounter we have. He knows who we will meet, who we will interact with and even who had the potential to offend us. He has given us influence from this space, our own flavor or sorts, and a certain scent that no one else has. There are things we do and say that no one else can do.

Don’t leave your space
None of us is an island; at least we’re not supposed to be! We have a connection, physically and spiritually to each other.  The space we occupy touches other spaces. Who we are and what we do affects those around us – for good or bad. Those we “touch” can be either blessed or hurt by our actions, whether we choose to stand or to flee, encourage or discourage. Other people occupying their own space will affect us too. Of course, this is who we get hurt or how we get blessed. The connections are not just in the physical realm, there are spiritual connections too.

Back to don’t leave your space…

It’s true when we’re hurt and try to back away from everyone, escape in order to avoid any more pain, that it feels like the right thing to do. The problem is, we don’t always realize what a void we leave behind. Our lives are not our own – what we do affects those around us in ways we may not have considered.

When we withdraw and stop participating, we leave a void, a vacuum in the space we once occupied. The emptiness if felt. Sometimes that feeling may be one of relief for a time to those we leave, or it may be one overwhelming grief.

Don’t be alarmed that some may feel relief when we depart – insecurity and anxiety are not always very comfortable to be around. But that relief is only short lived because we are supposed to occupy and thrive in that space and whether we are told or not, we are missed. The void/emptiness that’s felt by our absence can create a longing in others that is not unlike grief. It stirs up an ache in their souls that can’t be explained away.

We need to realize who we are and be aware of the space we occupy. We need to know we matter and are important to the people around us. Maybe we haven’t been told how much we matter and maybe that should change; but whether we are told or not, it doesn’t change the fact that the space we fill is ours to occupy and influence from.

If we don’t occupy and tend our spaces, we can become an island and that is NOT good. We will become isolated and alone because that is the effect of withdrawing. Departure believes the lie that we don’t matter. Know it for what it is – a lie! We matter more than we know.

You do matter! We matter!

I believe it’s time to stand in the place we’ve been given. It’s time to grow up in the things of God and begin to work from our places (spaces) of influence and boldly be who we are meant to be! And if for some reason you don’t know who that is, take a look around you – who are your friends, who are your companions, who influences you? This is who you are.

Now go be you and influence those around you!

Photo by Jérémie Crémer on Unsplash

Choosing Joy

Wholesome Home

“Count it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter trials of various kinds, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have it’s perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

In November 2016, these words became my constant companions. My body was consumed with toxic poisoning and my world changed drastically. 

I had been struggling with some weird health issues for several months prior to November, especially my memory and ability to speak, and I was concerned but blew it off. I attributed it all to the significant stress we had been going through for a couple of years with building our ministry, developing our ministry center and then having to leave it all to move to Kansas with my husband’s job. It was a tough transition, to put it mildly.

We had been in Kansas for…

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Focus – Love or Injustices

Today's Goals
I’ve discovered that if you spend all your time focusing on what is unfair, what hasn’t been accomplished, or even what someone did to you, there’s a big chance bitterness will take over your conversations, which would have started in your thoughts.
 
I do realize there are lots of things in our world that need justice but I’m also aware of the beauty that surrounds me. Every place I see something negative or “out of place”, I can also see things that are simply beautiful or even astounding.
 
What do you see when you see a homeless person on the side of the road? Do you see someone who is most precious to our Papa, or do you see all the disadvantages the person has? Both are true. Both are important. But only one has life and only one can bring solutions and answers.
 
Yes, there are injustices in our world and there are plenty of things that need changing but for me, I think it’s more important to dwell on the one thing I can bring to the game – right here, right now. That “thing” is love. I can bring love into any situation I encounter.
 
If I only see negative things, all the problems, then I will never get around to loving anyone or anything. No, I will only become bitter and hard and that is the way I will see everything. My lens will be clouded by the cares of this world.
 
Speak life.
 
Choose love
 
I challenge you today to bring love, forcibly if necessary, to every single situation you find yourself in today. Sometimes that looks like smiling and walking away. Other times it may look like hugging a homeless person and letting them know that have value and are loved and then perhaps you give them something that will cost you something. Who knows, that hug could have cost you everything. That cup of coffee might be the big sacrifice. Only you and Papa know.
 
Love those impatient drivers. (You might be the most impatient one!) Love those coworkers, love those neighbors.
 
You get the picture – wherever you find yourself today, love big. Love strong.
 
And by evening time, may we all say, “This was a good day, Lord!!”
Rinse and repeat…

Precepts and Principles…

Paving the road

Principles and precepts are good
But revelation is best

Keep the good
But prefer and protect the best

 

To say this another way…

Sometimes the principles and precepts we operate from in our day to day lives come from the revelation He’s been showing us. That is the case with me.

Just in the last couple of days, I read a snippet of someone’s blog post, and then I had to run out the door, hoping to finish it later. (But didn’t) Later that afternoon while driving in the car I listened to a sermon from Bill Johnson – didn’t get to finish that one either. Yesterday I read another post on Facebook about change that a friend had posted. I did get to finish that one! Yay, and it was very timely.  Later in the day, while driving home from work, I listened to another Bill Jonson sermon, because I couldn’t find the previous one I was listening to. I almost had finished it before pulling into the driveway. (Story of my life, lol)

All of these things I had been “hearing” in the last two days all of a sudden connected and distilled into one principle or precept. That’s kind of crazy if I try and figure out the how of it, but I won’t.

God had done this with me my entire life. He often uses things I’m reading, YouTube videos I’m watching, and even podcast I’m listening to, in order to weave a single principle or precept together, even when I don’t read or listen the entire message. This could have only be revealed by Him, I would have never connected the dots without His revelation and inspiration. This is when I get to say, “Oh, this is that!”

And the journey continues.

We can’t land even here – no matter how great and awesome the revelation was/is. The road moves on and we take these things with us on the journey, because A, we will need them, and B. He said/showed them to us. They are not stagnant monuments unless we make them so. Instead, they are part of the road that leads us to the next decision we need to make in the journey of life.

Principles and precepts are good
But revelation is best

Keep the good
But prefer and protect the best

 Let’s not make monuments out of what God has done, aka His acts. Instead, let’s use those principles and precepts to pave the road we continue to walk on – for certain, we will need something to pave the way.

Honor – Because we’re honorable

 

Love april 17

When I commented on a post earlier today it made me realize a few things about what I said and it also made me see how much I had changed over the last few years.

I honor people not because they deserve it; I honor people because I’m honorable.

I got to thinking about this statement and what it was really saying. It said, I’m honorable, and can now extend honor because of it. Hmmm

I also thought of loving my neighbors as I love myself. We all know this is one of the major commands of Jesus – Love God and love your neighbor, as you love yourself. But what if I don’t love my neighbor? What if I don’t even like my neighbor? If I find it this command impossible to do, the lack is mine, not theirs.

If I take the honor principle above and apply it to loving my neighbors it must mean that if I don’t love them it’s because I don’t love me – and I can’t give what I don’t have. That being the case, I should back up and find out why I can’t love them. Obviously, there is something that feels unworthy of love in me. This is what needs dealing with before I can love them.

Love is a Fruit of the Spirit and is something that takes a time to grow. If there is no love growing, I need to find out why and get healed.

Walking in the Fruit of the Spirit is healing and allows the (Holy) Spirit to do a work in me. It usually doesn’t happen overnight, it’s often a process. The Spirit will send in others to walk alongside to help you with getting healed. Sometimes it’s a full-on healing session but other times it’s more talking about and processing things to see them in a new light over a conversation, in the midst of a relationship/friendship.

Fruit takes time; it doesn’t simply appear on the branches. Flowers have to come forth and they have to be pollinated before any fruit will set. After that, the fruit will begin to grow but will still have to weather storms and hang on to that branch for what may seem like a long time before the fruit is ready to harvest.  Once the fruit is harvested I now have something I can give away – I can now extend love or peace, for example.

Then I get to grow more fruit.

It works this way with all the Fruit of the Spirit. When I find that I’m being impatient and letting situations frustrate me, I’ve prematurely gotten knocked off that tree branch! The fruit of patience wasn’t fully developed in me.

The more I get healed, the more I learn about my identity – my true identity. When I feel unworthy of love because of something in my past that either I did or someone did to me I really can’t love anyone else because I don’t have any to give. But when I get all that stuff healed and dealt with, I have room in my heart to love others the way they deserve to be loved.

I’m not fruitful in all areas of my life but I have come a long way. You too can measure your own progress simply looking at how you love people who are not like you or how you honor people. This was a little eye-opening to me. I realized the places I couldn’t “do” something were the places I needed to improve on in myself. (Or get healed)

As I begin to walk more and more in my true identity I can become an honorable person, full of love and happiness. It’s a process but progress is good!

 

We honor because we are honorable

We extend love because we are loved

We cry because we now can see the broken ones

We laugh because we have joy

We are kind because we know what mean-spiritedness is

We treat people and situations with gentleness because we have peace

We sing because He sings over us

We give hope to the hopeless because He gave it to us first

We are patient because we trust in Him

We are peacemakers because we have the Prince of Peace living in us  

We are alive because He lives

 

The Fruit of the Spirit is – unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindheartedness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

 

A Follow-up to,“When I was a boy”…

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As a disclaimer, my blog wasn’t about gender questions or anything like that…

To be clear, I never really wanted to be a boy – I simply wanted to have the same adventures as the boys I knew. And thankfully, I got to do exactly that; my entire childhood. (Well except on Sunday’s that is. Then I had to clean up, put a dress on and go to Church. Sigh…it was terrible!)

I have always loved being a girl but that also meant being a girl on my terms – which is:

I have never had any desire to be like other girls. Trying to figure out me was enough! I didn’t need to be someone else. I love experimenting with makeup and such but always in a fairly distracted way. I never got the knack of it and it really doesn’t even bother me.

I never get my nails done because I use my hands too much and the nail polish would be ruined almost immediately. Besides, I work with food a lot and nail polish is a no-no.

I don’t like dresses but will wear skirts if I have to. Jackets are my favorite, especially men’s jackets. Why is it that they get all the cool inside pockets? Why?

I’m more at ease being outside hiking in the woods than in the boardroom. Yeah, I can do that stuff but I might just get caught daydreaming! Boring!!!

My life aspirations weren’t to go to the moon or be president. Nope, what I wanted to be when I grew up was to be a mother and a wife. Those were my ambitions and actually, it’s what I do best. And in case you were wondering, I DID play with dolls, I did play house and I baked every chance I got!

I also loved making trails in the woods, building tree houses and arguing with the best of them whether someone was safe or not when they ran home from third base!

My being an adventure-seeker has nothing to do with also being an A-type personality. Clearly, I am not that type.

All my life, I’ve had more male friends than female friends. I preferred to engage in the activities my male friends were doing because I didn’t have much interest in what most of the girls were doing. I was never “boy crazy” like a lot of girls were. They were just friends! LOL

To this day, I have more male friends than I do female. Don’t get me wrong, I love my women friends but I do have less of them.

Most of my friends have been guys. I have not chosen jobs/work that is traditional “women’s” jobs. I’ve worked in shipping and receiving and have loved it. I once even worked construction, starting out as a laborer and then advanced to a pipefitter. And you know what? I got called out by many of the men that worked there because I did happen to wear nail polish in those days! They said I couldn’t do that. ..I guess I proved them wrong! I even had makeup on, lol.
I am not a fan of shopping, especially in a mall or with a group. I want to walk into a store, get what I came in for and leave as fast as I can!

I still love to get my hands dirty while gardening or even cooking. Either is fine, I always make a mess on my clothes or my apron. And that’s fine too.

Bottom line: I’m still very much an adventurer, very much a woman and very much Paul’s favorite tomboy. And Jesus thinks I’m awesome.

Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays

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Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays

Bear with me a moment while I get to the point of this blog….

In some Christian circles, it’s popular to be offended at people who don’t say Merry Christmas but instead say Happy Holidays to them. They seem to feel this is an affront to Jesus and His Holy birth and also themselves personally – which makes them stand up in “holy vigor” and rage about it in defense of Jesus. (Because Jesus is sitting up there on His itty bitty throne, helpless while He waits on us.  NOT)

And yes it’s true that when political correctness was adopted by corporate America, there were many people who were told they could no longer tell everyone Merry Christmas anymore because, “not everyone was Christian, and we wouldn’t want to offend anyone.” Some of those people who were told not to say Merry Christmas anymore just happened to BE Christians and rebellion began to stir against their company’s policies, albeit mostly covertly. There was smugness at secretly saying, “Merry Christmas”, as if to say, “take that, corporate America!”

Why? Why do we fall for these things?

Political correctness was and is simply a ploy to level the playing field and make everyone the same – no one special, no one celebrated and no one left out. Political Correctness wasn’t dreamed up by politics or corporate America. No, there is only one who kills, steals and destroys. He’s the force behind this and yes, he uses people to do his work. Don’t be one of them.

Back to Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays …

I must be honest here. I have to fight not to be offended when people get upset at someone when they say Happy Holidays as opposed to Merry Christmas. Yes, that the opposite spirit of those Christians listed above – but let me tell you why.

Religion! That’s why.

And ignorance, that’s also why.

Holiday is simply a word derived from the word Holy. Yes, it’s true.

So when someone comes along and tells you Happy Holidays, they are simply telling you Happy Holy days – whether they know it or not. See how cool that really is? There’s nothing to be offended about at all. Something the enemy chose to offend has really backfired if we will be educated and get over ourselves. Can’t we have the discernment to SEE that this is exactly the thing that is used to divide us?

I’m not so naïve to think this is the only thing being skewed by political correctness – it’s not. But this particular “thing” is directly aimed at us as Believing Christians. Can we not let it have its way with us this year?

You know, and I know you do, when we look at or focus on what is wrong and not what is right we WILL get offended. Let’s look at the Answer and see what He would have us do. I’m pretty sure it will have nothing to do with rebellion (offense) or wrath.

So, with all that being said – I’ll be the first to breakthrough this lie and tell you all, I hope you have the Merriest and Happiest Holidays ever!

…Because no matter how you say it, it’s all about Jesus! He is the one I celebrate and no one or their choice of words will ever change that – Period. I honestly think it’s a better way of representing Him. We know who this “Holy Day” is all about. Others may come to find out if we can simply be kind, thankful and full of blessings and grace throughout this season and beyond. Maybe…

Let’s represent well.

And I also want to say: Merry Christmas to you!

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Thankfulness

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As I was reading Jonathan Welton’s blog on Thanksgiving the other day, I came to the end of it and saw his suggestion to write out 50 things or people I was thankful for. It sounded like a wonderful idea!

I thought about what I would put on the list, and who I was thankful for all day long, but never put pen to paper. Instead, I waited until yesterday morning to sit down and start compiling.

It wasn’t as easy as I supposed.

Sure, Paul was first on my list and next came my relationship with Papa and His mighty abundance in my life – soon to be followed by children and family members.

Next I wrote down how thankful I was for my kitchen and all the equipment I am blessed to have – it is my place of solace after all, (smile).I was sure to include all the material blessings I have; my kitties and my neighbor’s kitty too!

…Speaking of neighbors, they were included also.

As I kept adding things to my list, I realized that I needed to stop and begin adding names of the people who I am so overwhelmingly blessed to have speak into my life

I began writing.

Name after name was added to the list. As soon as someone was added another name would come up in my heart and I added them to the list.

On and on it went.

Before I knew it, I had well exceeded the suggested 50 items or people.

And I wasn’t finished!

More names and faces appeared before me and a smile would blossom on my face at the remembrance of their love, their kind and encouraging words.

Once I began being thankful for what I have and for the people I surround myself with, I realized there was no room for complaining anymore. And even though I hadn’t been complaining really, I hadn’t been actively conscious of how much I have to be thankful for.

I find it interesting how simply reading a blog post of someone I have never even met can set me on a course of remembering how much I am loved and blessed! And the really great thing is, it happens almost every time I read something that YOU have written from your heart. It speaks loudly in my life.

When I left Facebook for a season, I deleted everything. That means, when I returned I started completely over with my friends and contacts. It also means most of you have been hand-picked to speak into my life and can I say: You rock!! You are amazing! Many of you I have not had the chance to meet face to face yet. But that doesn’t even matter really – I get love you and appreciate you every time we connect. It’s one of the most wonderful things in the world.

Oh, I just thought of one more name! I can’t forget to add you to the list!

Jesus said that, “from the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. (Mt 12:34)”

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! May your heart be overflowing this day. May the words of your mouth only speak life!

Encountering Jesus

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I have had one vision of Jesus. It is a treasure I hold dearly because I realize that many people haven’t even had that. For many years, I was the same. When I had my experience, I was receiving prayer in a healing room setting.

Paul and I had been teaching and training some staff for this new ministry in our church. The lessons were all complete, homework finished and now it was time to let the rubber meet the road. I decided we needed to do a mock-up of praying for someone so they could see how a typical session flowed. (Sort of, Holy Spirit likes to mix things up all the time). We were all standing in our places, setting order in the room, praying about who would lead and who would be the intercessors, etc. when I decided we needed a patient – someone who actually needed prayer – that someone was me. The funny thing was, God doesn’t do mock ups! Jehovah sneaky walked right in and it and before I knew it, this mock-up became a full on deliverance session for ME! (I Love Him so much,…Sneaky Guy).

When all the issues were taken care of, and after I finished repenting and forgiving, etc., I saw myself standing in a blind canyon that had a waterfall cascading down with a shallow pool collecting at the base. Mist was rising up from the pool of water, making it hard to make out any surrounding details. As I was trying to see what was around me, suddenly Jesus appeared. Out of the mist, he rode, riding on a white horse. Yes, He did have blue eyes and His hair was long and dark. His beard was fairly long but well kept.  He extended His hand to me, reaching down to give me an arm up so I could climb up behind Him. I’m so glad He did, my knees were about to buckle. I was a little overwhelmed.

Do you know how awesome it is to ride a horse with Jesus with your arms wrapped around his waist? I can’t even describe in words what that meant to me.  He came to tell me that He would always be there for me, anytime I needed Him. He would rescue me every time – and He has.

This was my only* face to face with Jesus; but when I close my eyes now I can see Him right before me sitting on His white horse, waiting on me to call upon His Name.

 

*I have since had another encounter with Jesus. Back in July of this year, I went to The Courts of Heaven on behalf of a family member. He met me there.

(photo credit ~ Lars Justinen)

 

Experiencing God

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Want to experience or hear God more?

It starts by seeking Him and expecting that He wants this as much as you do. He is already pursuing you more than you even know. His thoughts are ever for you. So, if you want to crash into Him…

Narrow your focus on Him. Take all those cares and worries and set them aside for now and just breathe. See all the things that are good and lovely in your life. Set your heart toward those things.

If you have trouble being still, put on some worship music. It doesn’t even have to be slow; it’s whatever will cause you peace and the ability to relax. You might even want to sing or hum along just to settle your thoughts and still you soul.

Once you are in a place of rest, consider:

What do you see or imagine that you are both doing together?

Peer into that a little more.

Let that vision expand – dwell there for a while.
Catch those almost fleeting thoughts and images…blow on them.

Once you do, they will grow and become real conversations and experiences with God; He’s the one sending them after all.

Once you and He have spent some time together doing whatever it is you both want to do, go give it away to someone else – they need Him as much as you do.

(Note: inspired in part by some notes I took while listening to David Joseph and Jeremy Mangerchine doing a podcast a while back.)