Saturday, May 13, 2017

Myth Busters, Bible Version

Myth - God will never give you anything you can't handle.

Truth - Oh yes He will!!

The Good News:

No temptation [regardless of its source] has overtaken or enticed you that is not common to human experience [nor is any temptation unusual or beyond human resistance]; but GOD is faithful [to His word - He is compassionate and trustworthy], and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability [to resist], but along with the temptation He [has in the past and is now and] will [always] provide the way out as well, so that you will be able to endure it [without yielding, and will overcome temptation with joy].  -1 Corinthians 10:13 (Amplified Bible)

For the last week, I've been sick. "The Texas crud" my ex-mother-in-law used to call it. I guess it's really just a common cold? But it feels a lot more like crud! For me, it starts turning into bronchitis quickly, I can't hear because of the fluid in my ears, it's...unpleasant. On top of that, Monday I was stung by a wasp (may he rest in pieces). My ring finger on my left hand turned into a little sausage, was red, and hurt like the dickens!!! So, it does suffice to say, I've been a bit miserable.

There probably isn't a better time for the enemy to start his attacks, is there? Physically, I was managing, so the enemy took it up a notch, he stated his attacks on my emotions. I really loathe when he does that...

A strange thing has happened to me over the last year or so...I don't often dream. It's not that I dream but don't remember, it's that if I dream, I don't even remember I did. When I sleep, my brain just turns completely off. It's something I'm actually very thankful for! About a month ago, I did have a dream, about church, it was funny and I do wonder how it "got through".

Well, somehow another dream got through this week. It was much less funny. The dream itself was not was of me being friends with someone. The unpleasant part was whom I was being a friend with. I could probably spend hours, maybe just minutes, analyzing this dream. Why was it her of all people?? But, that's not what this is about.

Upon waking, this dream lingered and turned into a series of "why" questions:
  • Why would someone do that?
  • Why isn't there a "Woman's Code" or something?
  • Why did I come out as the bad guy?
  • Why doesn't anyone ask how I'm doing?
  • Why, why, why? (It's a pretty long list...)
When the whys first started I stayed on top of them. Humans, they aren't perfect, love them anyway. Just because I wouldn't do it, doesn't make me "better", that's judging. Then the thief came to steal, kill, and destroy. "Because you are worthless", "because no one cares", he said.

That's when I made a fatal mistake. You see, I had a list of things I needed to get done and there was a finite amount of time to do them. "Those are lies, I know that", is what I did do combat the enemy. See, this is where the myth comes in...As my day progressed, the "intrusive thoughts", as I call them, kept on a comin'. But I was so focused on what I needed to finish, that I overlooked what I really needed to do. And, in reflection, I guess that's what the enemy was banking on.

My body was already weak from being sick and here I was pushing it to do more. My soul was hurting, but I didn't have time for that! So I kept forging ahead, blindly. In doing this, I disconnected my spirit from it's source of life. This wasn't willful was believe the myth..."God won't give me anything I can't handle".

By late afternoon/early evening, I was slammed by the enemy. Don't every think the enemy isn't paying attention, he will kick you hardest when you are at your weakest. But...I didn't have time to be weak! I had plans, and I kept focusing on them, continuing to believe the myth. "Chin up, woman! Shoulders up, head high, fake it 'til you make it". All lies, and they don't even work.

It wasn't until around midnight that I was finally brought to the end of me. Broken, defeated, bitter, lonely, hopeless, and rejected, I did what I should have done nineteen hours prior. I cried out to Jesus. I cried out all the questions, the whys, that had no answer. Instead of pushing the pain on down the road, I just stood in it.

"He heals the brokenhearted
And binds up their wounds [healing their pain and comforting their sorrow]]
- Psalm 147:3 (Amplified Bible)

Let me wrap up this myth for you as clearly as I can:

I believed this myth all day; "God won't give me anything I can't handle". Ha, what a lie from the pit of hell. God knew I couldn't handle this! Even I knew that! It's why I kept not stopping; I kept pushing it out of my mind until I couldn't any more. Not thinking about something is NOT handling it!!! Let me repeat that...not thinking about something is not handling it.

One of the things I avoid the most, as I'm sure most people feeling pain. I mean, seriously, who wants to feel pain?? I have become an expert at not feeling pain. It reminds me something my Papa used to say: "Does it hurt when you do that?", I'd answer yes. "Then don't do that!", he'd say. He usually applied this to a physical hurt...but I applied it to all hurt. It is painful to remember the hurts, so I've just learned to not think about them. Put them in a nice little box on a shelf way back in the corner.

But...that's how I handle what God's given me, and as you see, that was a craptastic plan yesterday, no? I'm fairly certain that isn't the plan God wanted me to follow. So...what is the plan? That seems to be the million-dollar question today, for which I have no clear answer.

For starters, I need to stop pretending "I got this", when clearly I do not. My heart is broken on so many levels, buy so many people,'s overwhelming. I think I need to address each and every one of these people (in my journal I mean). Instead of just not thinking about the painful things, I need to face them. Grieve the loss of friendship, the betrayal, the shattered dreams. Not a "Pity, party of 1". But of "Brokenheartedness, party of 2". Let God heal my pain and bring me comfort in my sorrow; to do that I must feel it and be in it. Trusting that my God is faithful, and it will not be forever…Only until it brings Him glory and beauty out of the ashes.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Take This Cup From Me

"Abba, Father! All things are possible for You; take this cup away from Me; but not what I will, but what You will." ~ Mark 14:36

I've read and heard this passage many times. Today, it really sunk in.

Jesus was 100% human and 100% divine. I've known that too on a basic level.

This week I've really reflected on my humanness and the way I handle the stresses of my life; the small things and the big things.

As I sat this morning reading the Word, I stopped on that verse and really thought about it. For a moment, I imagined myself in Jesus' place. What would I do? What would I feel? Just thinking about it was overwhelming. Nothing in my life is even comparable to what Jesus was facing.

In that moment I realized my very human feelings were probably close to what Jesus was feeling. The big difference is I was just imagining it Jesus was living it. He knew what was to come; He knew of the great pain and suffering. In a 100% human moment, He cried out to His Father, Abba, to save Him.

How many times have I cried out in the same way over something much less daunting? How many times have I sidestepped God's plan because I found it to be just too much to bear? How many times have I not said, "but what You will"??

Jesus could have done what I have done so many for the hills! Decide my situation is just too great and there's no way I could handle what was in front of me. When I connect that Jesus was 100% human, I realize He was probably pretty scared. If He didn't think what was in front of Him was overwhelming, why would He call out to His Father? He probably had every single emotion I imagine I would have.

He made a choice to have faith, to submit and ultimately give the greatest gift of love that could ever be given. Not just for His best friends, or His family, but for ALL, for me and for you.

Thank you, Jesus, for not running away. Thank you for bearing the cross, for dying, so that I may live.

Monday, December 12, 2016

I'll Take Your $10!

There is no hiding the fact I like books.  It is impossible for me to imagine my life without books.  As far back as I can remember, there is a book.  I fondly remember my Papa reading to me, he'd do the voices (all different) and I can still feel myself in the book.  There is no telling how many books I've read (or heard read) in my forty-five years on this earth.  

In fact, recently I was doing a calming exercise and was told to close my eyes and envision "my happy place".  Immediately, I went to the beach, that is what I've always heard is the go-to "happy place".  Meh, not a fan of sand.  So, then I went to a green meadow...mist hovering above tall green grass...oh wait, there's flying bugs.  Bugs are distracting.  For a moment I just...sat.  Eyes closed, wondering where the heck my "happy place" was.

Quickly ditching the beach and meadow, I waited for the Super Brain to kick in.  And oh how it did.

A small room dimly lit by a flickering fire, a single wall sconce and a banker’s lamp on a large wooden desk.  Several overstuffed armchairs strategically placed, each with a small side table.  On every wall, from floor to ceiling, there were bookshelves filled with books neatly arranged.

Along with this vision were feelings of warmth, safety, calmness, and an overwhelming sense of peace.

When I was called back to reality, I found myself not wanting to leave.  “Can’t I just stay for a moment longer?”

Science Fiction and Fantasy are my genre of choice, but I will, and have, read all sorts of books.  Finance is probably my least favorite, but I’ve suffered through a few.  I read no less than five books while I was pregnant the first time, and at least one or two in the later pregnancies.  Of course, then there are the baby books, the toddler books, the adolescent books, the teen books (which are pointless unless the actual TEEN is reading them).  Books about history, picture books, and countless children’s books have lined my shelves.  Mystery, romance (blah), biographies, autobiographies, books about racehorses, and books about cats that are clans and live in a world that is actually just beyond your backyard.  I’ve read stories about the first human clans, Irish folklore, the spice trade, if the movie has a book, I’ve read the book (either before or after, doesn’t matter to me).

*Side note:  One of my favorite movies is Last of the Mohicans; never ever read the book.  Trust me.  It NEVER ties into the movie even remotely, and it’s terribly hard to read.

Poe, Hemmingway, Michener, Shakespeare, Wilder, and even Chaucer (just to say I did…) are some of the more notable authors that have graced my imagination with there beautiful gifts.  There are countless others I find equally fascinating and wonder why everyone doesn’t just love them as much as I do!

My second favorite genre is Self-Help, Learn To, Do-it-Yourself.  Learning is probably my second favorite pastime; though I wasn’t fond of school, go figure.  I have taught myself to knit and crochet, draw (well, sort of); I found the New Me in sixty days, even though it was only supposed to take twenty-one.  The 30-Days to a Clean House is gather dust…literally.  I’ve also learned to live with ADD, actually thrive with ADD.

For the last year and a half or more, my interest in books has pointed inwardly.  It has been less for entertainment, and more for understanding both others and myself.  It has been a wonderful journey, to say the very least.

Most of the books I am reading now have an accompanying spiral notebook that follows them around.  When I first began this journey of exploration, I needed a “hook”.  I like writing, even if it’s notes.  In learning how to harness the Super Brain, I found it needs something it likes to do to make doing what it doesn’t like to do more doable. Writing also helps me remember what I’ve read, could have used that little gem back in school…

Today, as I’m scrolling FaceBook, giving my hand a wrest after my morning time with God, I came across a post from a friend.  “Five Lies of” something?  I now forget.  Oh, I want to know the five lies!!  ~click~  Was an interesting read, I could see some points.  However, when I got to the end, you know, where I’m supposed to find the truth, I was left feeling a little misled.

Admittedly it was a bit annoying that this “article” was really an ad. I could find the “truth” for $10!  Great price for this guy to tell me the truth!  This of course made me laugh, and feel duped.  “Dude, I know the answers, and you ain’t the one that can give them to me and solve my problems!” is exactly what I said, out loud, to my screen.

Yes, I have read several books in the last year and a half.  I’ve written notes on hundreds of pages and gone through no less that twenty pens (the new vamped erasable pen is my FAV!!) all searching for the truth.  And I’m finding it!!

However, the truth isn’t coming from the book, or it’s author.  See, my books, all of them, are Bible based.  I know exactly where the truth comes from.  I know the best author that gives the most sage, sound, and proven-to-work advice.  And the most awesome part is that He already paid the price for me.

The whole $10 truth thing this morning made me realize something:  this is the first time I’ve read self-help books and have actually seen the change in me!  ~Insert light bulb here~ Why is that, you ask?  I will gladly tell you!  For free even!!

The truth about me, the truth about how I can overcome adversity, the truth about how to deal with conflict, the truth about taking care of myself, of loving myself, of accepting myself – there’s not a person on this planet that can give me that truth.  They don’t have that truth.  My truth, my help, comes from my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

God bless every author that has used his or her gifts from Him to help guide me to Him.  God bless them for doing the research, finding the Scripture, applying the Word to their own lives and sharing their testimony with me.  To God is the glory!

Self-help, 5-Ways to Fix XYZ, The Secret of…sure, these are all great things!  Read as many as you like, matter-o-fact, please read them!!  Life, living, parenting, friendships, loving, marriage, divorce, serving, these are all complicated things!!  To think, “meh, I don’t need help, I’m good” is shortsighted. 

Never settle!  Never stop striving to be better, to do better, to help better, to love better.  If you look at your life and there is a void, I bet there’s a book that can shed some light on your situation!  But know this, if you don’t have God sitting with you while you are reading, that void will remain no matter how many times you read the words.

God wants us to help ourselves in unity with Him!  If He is not first whom you seek, you will always be thirsty and hungry, tired and lonely, searching and not finding.  There is no person on earth that can make you whole.

John 6:63
“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing.  The words I have spoken to you – they are full of the Spirit and life.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

I Am Not Worthy, I Am Loved!

I Am Not Worthy, I Am Loved!

Hebrews 12:29
…for our “God is a consuming fire.”

This season of my life is one of fire.  This little light of mine is blazing, it’s exciting and sometimes a little scary.

Let me take you back about 40 years to probably one of my first vivid memories.  I’m standing in my bathroom, looking into the mirror.  I see the little girl in the mirror, blonde disheveled hair, pudgy little cheeks, and a welt developing under her right eye, turning from red to a blue-green-blackish color.  Tears brimming, but a fierce look on her face.  I remember the feelings of that little girl; a bit confused, a bit sad, but determined!!

You see, that little girl, Stephanie Ann, had just been popped in the face with the butt of a BB gun.  ~Gasp!!~  How horrible!!  Nah, not really, it makes me chuckle and smile now.  I was on fire then too, just been out shining my little light and sharing the love of Jesus with my neighbor.  Apparently, my delivery of salvation was more than she wanted to hear?  So she rejected my words and put a period at the end of it with my very first black eye.

I could continue down that path; sharing the twists and turns of my life that molded me into the woman that stands before the mirror now.  That story will have to wait for another day…I want to talk about the woman in the mirror now.

My morning time with God now includes Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young.  I love how she’s written the devotionals; they are like personal love letters from Jesus.  I can feel his loving arms wrap around me as I read the words.

This morning the letter began with “This is a time of abundance in your life.  Your cup runneth over with blessings.”  Now, honestly, I kinda balked at that.  Said out loud, “Ok, I’m just gonna have to take your word on that, Jesus”, and just kept rewriting the love letter down in my journal (I like rewriting things, it helps me internalize what I’m reading).  It talked about “plodding uphill”, I definitely related to that!!  Then it told me I was now in lush meadows (??what??), that I’m to enjoy the ease and refreshment (??double what??).  Then it talked about things that made way more sense:  guilt, not deserving to be so richly blessed.  Yeah, now that’s what I’m talking about!

After each love letter, there are relevant scriptures, I write these down too.  One stuck out, probably one of the first verses I memorized as a child.

John 3:16
For God so loved the world (me, Stephanie Ann) that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

He had me at “so loved”, I’ve known that for forty-one years now!  Recently I was able to go back to the very place I professed my faith in Christ.  I saw the exact spot I told my mama and daddy I needed to go down to the pulpit.  The baptistery was exactly the same, and I could recall exactly what it looked like as I walked down into the water that would represent my sins being washed away.

There is something I’ve learned, and fully believe with every ounce of my being, that nothing that is put before me is by chance.  The importance of what is before me varies, and I probably over analyze a little too much?  So I had to go back to the beginning and reread “This is a time of abundance in your life”.

“Ok, God, what are you trying to tell me here?” because this has been a difficult year/month/week!!

Super Brain kicked in, love when it does that (most of the time…), and being the eternal optimist I am (and probably a LOT of help from the Holy Spirit) all of my struggles started turning into blessing!!  Perspective is everything.

This has been a difficult season of my life.  It seems like a never ending cycle of getting knocked down and getting back up only to get knocked down again.  And that’s not a pity party, it’s just life!  But…it’s a time of abundance.  I am loved so much that Jesus came to earth knowing he would suffer, be persecuted and crucified!!  If God was willing to give his only Son for me, even though I don’t deserve it, then He must be giving me struggles for a reason too, right?

Perspective is everything.  When I looked at that woman in the mirror, she is confused, a bit sad, but determined!!  She is on fire!! I was promised I would be baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire, remember?  And, I mean seriously…how can one think that being baptized with fire is in any way easy??  Of course it’s going to be difficult!  But when a potter takes an ugly lump of clay and works it into a vase, it’s really just turned into ugly clay with a shape.  It’s not until that piece of ugly clay is put into a kiln; and through the firing process becomes beautiful.

My blessings are in my struggles!  Yes I have been knocked down, and every time I get back up; not because of my own strength but because my path has brought me to a place that I know my feet will fail!  It is only by the grace of God that I have made it through.  He has carried me when I couldn’t take another step forward.  He has showed me that even though I am a sinner and I am not deserving of His love; He finds pleasure in giving it to me anyway!  O God, how great you are!

Through some of the most difficult times in my life, to date, I have leaned into Him.  My spirit has been renewed; the Holy Spirit is firing it.  It’s exciting and a little scary at the same time because it’s stirred up that four-year-old little girl’s determination to share the love of Jesus Christ.  And quite frankly, I don’t really want anymore black eyes.  Maybe I need to tweak my delivery some?  But really, all I want to do is run around and give everyone I see in pain a big hug and tell them JESUS is the answer!!  All that fear and pain you carry, He wants you to give it to Him!  Let Him carry your burdens so you can be filled by his over abundant love and peace.  He will give you rest and all you have to do is call out to Him.

It really is just that simple.  But I know how difficult it is, there have been dark days where all my hope is gone.  There have been days where all I could do was say “Jesus, I can’t do this anymore”…and then…there He is, right next to me, lifting me up in his loving arms, bringing me comfort only the Father can.

This is why I sing praise to Him.  This is why I say, “God, you are worthy!!” because I know I am not.  I don’t deserve his love, I can’t do enough to earn his love, but He loves me with no limits, I don’t have to earn it, He gives it to me and wants me to receive it!  For that, I am so grateful.  For that, I want to be his hands and feet.  I want everything I do to bring glory to Him.

Thank you, Father, for loving me even when I’m an unappreciative brat!  Forgive me when I feel I am owed your blessings, because I know if I got what I deserved some days I would come up empty and lost.  Let your love and grace pour over me so I may pour it out to others.  Help my delivery be one that is humble and only gives glory to You.  Amen.