Christ Traded HIS Freedom So That You Can Be Free From Your Burdens

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Freedom has set you free

To give the ultimate gift of freedom, Love laid down His life for the sake of another. This unselfish act of sacrifice allows freedom to reign so that others do not have to live in bondage.

What is it in my human nature that causes me to forget the “freedom from bondage” part on a daily basis?

In my human nature, I quickly forget that I am free. Guilt tells me I deserve the pain in which I live and shame reminds me of my story. They are the ball and chain I drag relentlessly. Guilt and shame are key ingredients for a recipe of disaster. Together, the two of them convince me that I deserve every ounce of my suffering. Nine times out of ten, I give in and believe them. I pick up my chains and follow, because it’s easier that way.

However, the cross is not easy. Maybe it is the blood, the guts, the gore of an actual human suffering unto death, but I don’t think the cry of Christ to His Father “Why have you forsaken me?” portrayed easy. The Savior of the world could have removed Himself from the suffering situation in which He found Himself. He could have used the excuse, “It’s just easier this way.”

It is for the freedom found in living free that Christ died. He gave me a choice to accept or deny.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.”

Galatians 5:1

Freedom from my past

My past is an ugly place…

Journey to Chaoticlifeoflauren.com to read the rest!

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This is Not My Home

“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord,  “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

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Colorado Aspens

Fall is in the air…in Colorado, my forever home, and I am not there.  I am not hiking through the quaking aspens to lofty heights to inhale crisp mountain air.  I’m not sitting on a craggy rock outcropping gazing at the wonders of autumn.  I’m not above where trees dare to grow listening to the song of the elk.  There is not the smell of campfire and sweet pine.  The peaks are not dusted in snow.  I am not wearing a sweater in the wee hours of dawn to find off the early chill.  My air conditioner is not off.  The windows are not open and there is no thought of a fire in the fireplace (if I had one).  I am not there, I am here.  

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I am blessed, so very very blessed, but this is not my home.  It is where I am.

 

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Life elevated, where trees dare not grow

 

Himself and I have moved thirteen times over the last twelve years.  We wander.  We are very nomadic, never permanent.  Most of the moves have not been little moves either.  Colorado to Wyoming to New Mexico to Texas (all around Texas) from Houston to Colorado then to Missouri.  All these moves have one thing in common.  We chose the location and purposed to move.  

Here is different.

Last September, engulfed in prayer when I packed up and said good-bye to my forever home of Colorado, I left it all in the hands of God.  “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders,” I prayed. “Let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me.  Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my savior.” (“Oceans” by Hillsong).

Here I sit.

A stranger in a foreign land, feeling a bit Israelite, a bit exiled.  An empty turtle shell for a friend, and trees that have become my home–wondering what in the world God is doing.

Some phases of life are preparation phases.  God spends time getting us ready.  Like the seasons of the earth.  I feel in my spirit that the winds of change are blowing differently than I have ever known.  This is all backwards.  Previously, months before we decide to move, before it is even a thought in our heads, I feel the change coming in my spirit.  The pattern is predictable, highly recognizable.  The change I feel coming is different from a change of address.  I am about to see an uncharted course.

I’m watching God lay down a new foundation.  I’m watching him put the pieces into place, but I cannot tell what he is building because He said He’s doing it this time, not me.

The winds of change are blowing

There are a lot of verses before Jeremiah 29:11; exile, expectations of getting out of Dodge, and seventy years.  “Hey, settle in for a bit.  Build a house, plant a garden, make that house your home.  It’s gonna be a while.  While you are there, in that tiny community you know nothing about, seek peace and prosperity of the city (tiny town) where I have carried you into exile (oh, so I am in exile huh?…hush and listen please).  Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”  (in my own words Jeremiah 29:5-7)

“Really, Jeremiah 29:7?  Are you serious God?  This is not my home.  These are not my people (if I had a people).  What are General Turtle (General Turtle?  Yes, I named the empty turtle shell that is my friend), Dog, and I suppose to do?”

“As long as you have breath, you said, you would pray!  Now you have something to pray about!”

Sweet trust and Jeremiah 29: (pause) 7.  In verse twelve, I found the word “then”.  Usually, when I see “then” that means to trust God first.

“Then you will call on me and come pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity…”

How do an empty turtle shell, a dog, and a girl pray for something none of us know anything about?

From my face buried in the carpet, I’m watching the borders of trust fade.  Beautiful boundaries carefully placed to limit God, crumble.  I am in a sea without an end.  Blackness adorns.  The anticipation of light on the horizon.  Alone, but not alone, in a vast unfamiliar land, silently and boldly, slowly and unsure, I rise.  Confidence creeps near as I step into my appointed place of “chief of prayer security” in this house I’ve been making a home.

The atmosphere is changing now, for the Spirit of the Lord is here.

“I am here”

My heavenly Father smiles, “I’ve just been waiting on you, are you ready?”

“Yes, I am ready”

I’ve been here before, Lord, and I failed.  I do not want the strength to stand on my own two feet.  I want the strength to remain forever embedded in your presence.

Mind Your Business

This past week has been relatively nature-less, boring.  With the ducts insulated, my head is no longer stuck in the rafters.  Thank you, Jesus, for the lower electricity bill that follows.  

I’ve been babying a non-injured, swollen elbow.  I say “non-injured” because I feel no physical pain.  Why is it swollen?  Beats me.  Like most things in life, I ignore it and carry on.

Insulation project complete, I moved my work back outside.  I mowed the lawn, weed-eated my weed eater to death (not to worry, it’s a Craftsman.  I returned it to Sears in exchange for a new one), cleared some incredible boulders from my creek to surround my baby trees, and woke up the next morning with a purple ring finger.  Apparently, the swelling became a little worse and my ring shrunk four sizes.  Himself was adamant about rest.  Three days later, I’ve had all the one-handed stillness I can take.  Tomorrow, I will return to the outdoors.  Maybe I won’t move so many boulders this week.  In the meantime…

My mind runneth over.  No work makes for busy thoughts, late nights, and much conversation.  “Give thanks in advance for the good works I am about to unleash Girl.  Watch me as I move in a new way.  I call you to pray, not question.  I ask you to trust and mind your own business.  The heart of another is for me and me alone.  Your heart is your business.”  God moves in mysterious ways.  This frightens me.  He just refuses to let me become comfortable in this life.

“All very well and good God, thank you.  However, you working in the heart and life of another does directly impact my comfort and tests my sanity.  As well, this disrupts my sleep and my work.”  I whine back at God.

“I know!” He says,  “Mind YOUR heart.”

Oh, crud!  Here we go.

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. (I have enough of them.)  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”  Psalm 139:23-24  

My heart, my life…Grow my character through my discomfort.  Deepen my faith through my anxiety.  Teach me to pray when I cannot sleep.  May my sanity always be found in you and you alone.  God, work your mighty works…faith without borders, where feet may fail.  Standing on the promises of God my savior, I place all my trust in you and you alone.

It wasn’t until I gave up, threw in the towel, and raised the white flag that life began to make a lick of sense.  Still, I believe God is crazy.  My life is a constant tornado of God.  He’s moving pretty fast and furious as of late, and I struggle to keep up.

Isaiah 6:1  “In the year King Uzziah died…”  my thoughts swirl, tumble, and come to rest on a familiar sentence of my own, “in the year my mom died…”  Long, long pause.  Tragedy…all I held as truth removed from my life.  All these things I held self-evident–gone.  Four and a half years later, I don’t know which packs a bigger punch, the pain of then or the revelation of now.

“In the year King Uzziah died…”  Loss of all my spiritual grounding, my rock, and the only constant I had in life.  All I regained took a slightly darker turn.  While thinking all I professed was good, it was empty.  I was empty.  I learned a new empty, I reached a new low.

“In the year King Uzziah died…”  I quit, I gave up, I gave out, threw it away, and moved on.

“In the year King Uzziah died…”  I ran fast and hard.  What is this pain?  The still small voice thundered, “this is not who you are.”

“I know!”  I shout, sprinting faster.

Three years later, “in the year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne and the train of his robe filled the temple.”  Wait!  I’m the temple!  He fills me completely!  Angels singing holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty, with shaking and smoke.  “Me?  No!  I am not worthy.  I’m a filthy sinner, pretty bad too, big sin.”

“Oh, but your sins are atoned by the blood of the cross and an empty grave!” He reminds me.  And then, then I heard the voice of the Lord saying “Whom shall I send?”  

Next thing I know, I heard my voice saying “Here I am!!  Send me!”  (yes, I put Isaiah 6:1-8 in my own words, it relates to me)  I stopped dead in my tracks, I quit running, waved the white flag, and declared surrender.  “Holy, holy, holy are you Lord God Almighty!  Here I am, send me to where my trust is without borders.  Call me out on the water!”

“Are you sure you’re ready, there’s no going back?” The Almighty asks of me.

“Ummm, no.” I reply, “But let’s give it a go anyhow.”

“Do you trust me to move you to the place where your faith is without borders.  You must stay, no running no matter how hard it gets.  NO MORE RUNNING!!  Grace, mercy, forgiveness?  Do you believe me?  I’m going to test it.  I will not let you fail, I will not let you fall.  I will push you beyond your means, beyond what you think your limits are.  We’ve been here before, and you ran.  You must stand this time.  Is my message worth it to you?  For that one lost soul, is my life’s sacrifice worth suffering?  I will take you where trust is without borders and feet will fail.”

For such a time is this.  Tragedy is never loss when you see God on His throne.  God used my mother’s death to awaken my life.

So, God is on the move and working in the life of another.  He is doing big and mighty works.  The growing pains of another hurt the crud out of me, inconvenience me, and try to push me over the edge.  Consequently, I am finding faith without borders through minding my business.

“I am here, Lord.  Your servant.  Upon this rock I stand, my trust not built on sinking sand.  Your name is Victory, all praise will rise to Christ my King.  Trust without borders, where feet may fail.”

And the year King Uzziah died?  Tragedy, it took the realization of tragedy to stop me dead in my tracks before I could see God on His throne.

 

Playing Catch-up

The rickety red chair bellied up to the equally old wooden table, the sound of my fingers tapping the keys, dog pawing for my attention, thirty-two ounces of sun-brewed iced tea, and David Crowder singing about how God loves us sets the scene for a certain kind of silence that I adore.  Familiar worship hangs in the air once again.  

 

No, the jungle did not swallow me whole.  Nor, have I changed my name to Jane and joined Tarzan swinging from the vines.  I am alive and a year older (numerically speaking).  I feel as if I left life hanging in the balance, filled with worry that I had not  efforted to the fullest extent…

 

In the midst of marking my anti-procrastination list, Himself phoned.  He was two days early.  I was ready.  He arrived at the house after dark and we dashed out the next morning headed to Chicago to pick up his early birthday present (he found a 1980’s pinball machine in wonderful condition which we dropped-off it in St. Louis to be made perfect).  So, needless to say, it was two days before he could marvel at his newly found piece of property.  On our way home from Chicago (it was a quick up and back), the surveyor phoned to say he was doing his bit.  I cleared enough, and it was good enough.  Why do I ever waste a moment of my time worrying?  All the worry in the world did not add a day to my life!  In fact, Himself was beyond words at what I had accomplished.  The survey, on the other hand, left me wanting more.  We do not own what I thought.  The creek I worked so hard to find does not sit inside the property boundaries.  Those “stairs” where I pause to bless my creator are not mine.

 

“Really God?  After all that effort?  It’s not mine?  You gotta be kidding me?  I bled in that valley of thorns.  Can a girl catch a break in this life at all?  Can’t I just own the creek?”  Thankfully God takes my whining better than my mom ever did.

 

“Do you really think you OWN any of this earth.  Last I checked, it’s MY earth and you should count your blessings.  I grace you with all this beauty and you want to OWN it?  Think again, girl!  I bled for your life.”  Yes, I pouted for just a bit (ok, a couple of days) until I realized how right God was in His thinking.  Just because it is not MINE, that creek is still there.  I can still make it pretty and enjoy every trickle while it rains.  And there shall be a post about boundaries forthcoming.

 

Himself showed-off his chainsaw skills while removing the dead, the almost dead, and pure evil (locust) trees.  It was the ultimate “mic-drop” as he tossed the chainsaw into the case and walked up the stairs, into the house without even looking back.  He impressed himself.  Most of the trees are in pieces waiting for me to sort and stack.  Job security!

 

My birthday marked the onset of football season (I’m a sooner born, and a sooner bred, and when I die, I’ll be a sooner dead!  Go OU!).  I was treated to Arthur Bryant’s in Kansas City and to the BBQ sauce by which I have measured all BBQ sauces.  In honor of becoming another year older, himself bought me a flame thrower.  I now possess the power of fire backed by propane.  Lethal!  As well, I am now the proud owner of a much-coveted porch swing.  Since the dawn of my time, I wanted a porch swing.  I now have my morning coffee on my porch swing.  I now watch the sunset from my porch swing.  I now ponder life’s deep ponderings from my porch swing.  I consider sleeping on my porch swing.  It’s that awesome!

 

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I have waited since day one for this!  My very own porch swing made in Mazurah from native cedar!

 

We road-tripped, churched, insulated ducts, hiked, chainsawed, burnt stuff, Walmarted, ate cake (for breakfast on my birthday while watching OU lose the season opener) and cobbler, I cooked and did mounds of laundry and dishes; it was a good eight days.  Now I struggle to catch up.  My new to-do list is infinite and that’s ok.  In the grand scheme of life, I am blessed.  

 

I walk out my back door to go to work in my own world, where I am my own boss.  Dog and nature are my co-workers, no one ever calls off leaving me with a mess.  My BFF is an empty turtle shell named General Turtle, we have lunch together almost every day.  I stay up late and wake up late.  I dance in the rain without the worry of getting wet.  I eat deviled eggs for dinner, peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast and drink the entire pot of coffee.  I can write until my heart’s content or until I fall asleep.  I can sing out loud as if no one is listening all day, every day because no one is listening (well, I am teaching Dog to sing, she’s getting pretty durn good, so she listens)!  I can be uniquely me and embrace my oddities that make me uniquely me.  I still have my fair share of problems and life still has it’s “moments” because no human or relationship is perfect.  But, I have been given the gift of time and it is the greatest gift anyone has ever given me.  

 

And God reminds me to enjoy HIS beautiful earth, the one HE owns, not me.  Enjoy creation one day at a time.  This season I am in, it’s just that.  It’s a season and in my world, they change quickly, nothing is permanent.  This one, just like all the others, will come to a close much before I am ready and I will waste all my days wanting it back.  Once they are gone, they don’t come back.  I struggle with this.  God says “Breathe it in Child, this season, breathe it in.  Let me be the air in your lungs.  Slow down enough to savor each moment.  Take nothing for granted, be mindful of my presence.  Delight in the good, learn from the bad and then discard it.  Dwell on me, I have your days numbered and know exactly what you need and when you need it.  Rest in my presence and trust in me.  Please, for the love of all that is good on earth Girl, do not burn down the jungle!”

The Valley of Thorns

O my soul, bless God.  From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name!  O my soul, bless God, don’t forget a single blessing! –Psalm 103:1-2 MSG

For many, dawn offers hope of new.  This is the cherished part of the day.  The first rays of God’s light usher His peace.  I do love the morning as well.  For me, though, it is a time of preparation.  

Oh, how this battle is not against flesh and blood!  It is a battle of Girl against jungle–dark fights to stay dark and light wants to burst forth.  Upon my eyes seeing the day, I prayerfully strategize the day’s battle plan.  Over coffee, my King and I map out the attack.  We talk of strongholds that must be torn down, weeds that rob the precious soil of nutrients, and a ground in need of cultivation.  Bring forth the light!

Morning is a flurry of activity.  A spinning toy top set into motion; balanced perfectly, spinning steadily.  To fight properly, I need nourishment for my soul and body, for without I am weak.  If my soul and tummy are not fed, I cannot endure and fight the good fight.  Bug spray of faith is a must.  If I lack confidence in the unseen powers, I will surely turn back in fear.  Absolutely imperative are the correct tools.  Strongholds fall not with a mere kitchen knife.  For any foe that stands against me, the sword of truth has promised me victory and I believe every promise written.  I would not serve me to move into the dark of the jungle without any of the above.  What good am I if I am not prepared to fight?

 

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previously, the left jungle was a mess of trees

This is my morning, every morning (save Sunday, God bless Sunday!).  The left jungle fell without a fight.  Hard days and tired nights claimed victory.  For lack of burning and a chainsaw, the land is raw.  Beauty comes with time.  However, the enemy has deep roots in the right jungle, aka “The Valley of Thorns”.

 

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currently, the left jungle is in need of a chainsaw.  I did find the most amazing rocks all along the left side.  Good luck with that fence!

While some victories come swiftly with little effort, there is an evil rooted in this valley and it is fighting back.  It is a fierce fight with no end in sight.  Needless to say, the jungle has a victory under its vine.  I ventured into the fight determined and came back bloody and bruised (yes, I’m serious).  A new plan of attack is in the works while my wounds recover.  I declare, I am victorious.  I am an overcomer!

 

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The Valley of Thorns

 

Yea, though I work in the valley of thorns, I will fear no scratch.  For what on this earth can kill my soul?  Nothing!  I will save the fear for the one who can condemn this soul to hell.  For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He protects me! (–Psalm 23, Matthew 10:28-30 in my own words.)

While I love the preparations of the morning; the planning and the strategy, eager to conquer, it is the evening in which I find my peace.  Ceasefire calls a truce until dawn.  Sunset bade me sit, be still.  Peace washes over me as I reflect on the day’s fight.  Well done good and faithful servant–I gave my all.  Releasing my worry and fear, I let go.  My mind slows (a spinning top wobbles, falls to its side) and His praise flows from my lips.  I reach my empty hands toward Heaven in a blessing for being born again.  Blessing for my strength.  Blessing for my health.  Blessing for my home with a yard.  I am humble and He is God.

The sun hangs a portrait in the sky.  My bats circle eager to see what new meal awaits, I give them new space to hunt.  In this moment, rest and relaxation reward me.  Peace twinkles above.  The fragrant breeze circles and calms my senses while the locust sings day’s end.  I smile.

Day is done, gone the sun,

From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;

All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.

Fading light, dims the sight,

And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright.

From afar, drawing nigh, falls the night.

Thanks and praise, for our days,

‘  Neath the sun, ‘neath the stars, ‘neath the sky;

As we go, this we know, God is nigh.

Sun has set, shadows come,

Time has fled, Scouts must go to their beds

Always true to the promise that they made.

While the light fades from sight,

And the stars gleaming rays softly send,

To thy hands we our souls, Lord, commend.

Taps

Bless the Lord, Oh my soul, worship His holy name!  All is well once again.  His mercies will soon be new.  

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow,

Praise Him, all creatures here below

Praise Him above, ye Heavenly host

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost

Amen

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8p3n5wzFpM

 

The Almighty Power of Bug Spray

Silence in the jungle leads to deep thoughts.  Solitude in the jungle leads to even deeper thoughts.

Working alone for three and a half weeks feels more like eight.  Conversations with someone other than Dog or the voices in my head are appreciated.  Although, talking to myself is a guaranteed conversation with someone I like!  I sympathize with that guy in the movie “Castaway”.  I haven’t named any of the trees fortunately.  Their impermanence prevents me from forming any lasting relationships.   Some trees are here today, tomorrow they will be gone.  Life passes quickly in my jungle.

While working alone in silence, I discovered I have great faith…in bug spray.  Yes, I’m serious.  In my jungle lurks an evil that has the power to chew me up and spit me out.  This evil causes great discomfort long after day’s end.  I have the power to dispel such atrocity.

Each morning upon my awakening, I delight myself in coffee and prayer.  While these two entities combined are a great power, they alone cannot combat that evil that lurks.  I would be a fool to go forth without the almighty power of bug spray.

After my coffee and prayer, maybe breakfast as well, the first item on my agenda is to coat myself with the “shield of protection” from the orange spray can.  Every inch of exposed skin is coated not once, but twice; double layers of protection.  I will not set forth without it.  Once the shield is up, I fear not, I worry not the rest of the day.  The evils of the jungle stay far away because they fear the protection.  The little creatures that lurk know the power in the orange can is no match for them.  I win!  Victory is mine and I work in confidence.  I think the label on the orange spray can should read “faith”.

And now, for the deep questions of “what if”.

  1. What if faith was visable, would it be easier to use?
  2. What if faith was in a spray can and we could coat ourselves daily, would more people have faith?
  3. What if faith was available on the shelves of the discount leader, would people buy it?
  4. What if I believed in the power of Christ like I do bug spray?  

Oooh…there it is, my point (if you hadn’t gotten there already).  Belief in what I cannot see.  Google defines faith as having complete trust or confidence in someone or something.  Complete trust.  Complete confidence.  

I have complete confidence that my bug spray will do its job.  I see evidence every day that it does do its job.  Sigh, I break my heart sometimes.  In all my belief, in all my God-filled thoughts and writings, I still do not trust completely.  I have areas in my life where I worry, where I fear, and where I forget God is completely in control.  (**author’s note…the conviction just hit me squarely between the eyes.  Seriously, just now, it was a big “ouch!”.  I’ll spare you the details, but in my head, a list popped up of the areas where I lack complete belief that God is in control of those situations.  I always said I write for me, this is no exception.)

Complete protection and mindless peace are mine for the taking–no purchase necessary, no strings attached.  Victory is mine, it is finished.  The power of the Almighty covers me.  I need not worry or fear, just walk forth in confidence.

 

…Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders,

Let me walk upon the waters…

 

But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea tossed by the wind.  James 1:6

 

What if I had confidence in God like I do bug spray?

Beauty in the Struggle

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Glory to God in the church! Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus! Glory down all the generations! Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!
Ephesians 3:20‭-‬21 MSG

That verse makes me wanna brag on God a little!  What can my God do?  Um, everything!!  Oh yes, my God’s tells the sun when to rise, and even the winds the waves obey Him!  **Smug, confident smile!  Really, I get a wee bit excited!

Working in the jungle…alone…has given me cause to examine my thoughts.  Do I ever think about anything other than God?  I’ve begun to think I’m a little odd around the edges (really, if you knew me, I am quite odd).  Why is it that everything I do comes back around to God in one way or another?  I can turn house cleaning into God.  Yard work, definitely all about God.  Driving my car, God…grocery store, God…sunsets, of course God…everything I think turns back to God whether it be a lesson, story, song, or just a bible verse.  Does this make me stranger than I already am?  Who does this?  I’m beginning to wonder about myself and all this silence.

Well, that will remain unanswered for now.  Today, I tried to burn my jungle.  I failed.  That could be God or the fact I ran out of lighter fluid.  How in the world do people get forest fires going? (please take that for the tongue in cheek it is…don’t go pharisee on me here)  One square inch at a time is getting old.  I want the quick way out, the fast track!  However, eloquent encouragement came my way, (God thank you so much for this word of encouragement in my life–bless the giver ten fold!) “there is a kind of beauty in the struggle”.  What truly precious words, what truth!

Beauty in the struggle.

When my mission is complete, my hands will have touched every bit of this land, the land that God has graciously given.  I will know, by heart, every little rock.  Bigger than that, is the fact He who made those weeds has the hairs of my head numbered.  How much more does He know me than I know my jungle?

…And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head…

Luke 12:6‭-‬7 MSG

Beauty in the struggle.

God gives us (every single one of us) the ability, in Him, to conquer EVERY thing He has called us to do.  He equips us each and every morning with new strength for our day.  Wake up tomorrow with that thought…when He calls, He equips.  New day, fresh energy!

God ’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left. God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God . It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times.

Lamentations 3:22‭-‬27 MSG

Yes, sticking it out through the hard times, inch by inch, weed by weed!

Beauty in the struggle.

Watching fire try to burn was my biggest struggle today.  In the fire I found the most beauty and the biggest lesson of my day.

A smoldering pile eventually goes out.  A smoldering heart eventually gives up.  It takes effort to keep a pile of grass, thorny weeds, leaves, and crunched up twigs laced with dirt burning. Constant stirring, raking, fresh fodder, and fuel to make it burn with gusto.

As a believer, I must constantly feed my heart to keep that fire burning bright.  Reading, writing, singing, praising, and fellowship with those that share my passion fuel my fire with fire.  Light me up God, I wanna burn bright like the sun!

Beauty in the struggle.

My last thought came from Faye!  Again, and always she inspires me with her wisdom.

I hope I can say the same when I am at the end of my days. That I did not waste what I was given, that I used the time I had been given that I loved and lived to the full and that I served where and when I was called.

This has been on my mind for days now, especially working my jungle.  I want to go to Heaven tired.  I want to give every single ounce that God has given me back to Him…withholding nothing!  

So yes, there is beauty, unmeasured beauty, in the struggle.  When I’m finished, I’ll say good job me, and it will be worth not burning it all down.  At the end of my time, God will say good job and it will be worth every ounce I gave! 

Weeds from Hell and Other Insane Thoughts

I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”–Genesis 28:15 NIV

A new season of my journey has dawned.  In my world, seasons change in the twinkling of an eye.  I’m use to it now!  I am at peace and my soul finds rest.  The world is silent and God rests supremely at the forefront of my mind, He’s all I need!

For a moment in time, this world does not pass me by.  I am stationary, in one place, not moving at 60 mph.  I am home in Mazurah.  This unexpected twist in life began with Sister in Okrahoma needing help.

Like any good little sister, I dashed to lend a hand…with dishes, laundry, and some hefty cleaning.  Fortunately, God has placed the “dish/laundry” calling upon my life…once a servant, always a servant!  Oh for the love of others!

After the death of our mom in 2012, she has had 5 surgeries.  The last of which replaced both ankles during the holiday season.  Soon after, she came down with pneumonia.  Next, she and hubby opened their home to an expectant seventeen year old until further notice.  Two became three.  As if it wasn’t enough, hubby’s two girls–18-year-old twins–have returned from Hawaii (where they lived with their mom).  Three magically multiplied to five.  All in all, two weeks passed while we worked ourselves silly.

Upon my return to Mazurah, my commission is demolition of the jungle (that is the yard).  Summer rains and sweltering heat have given the landscape charge over the once promising yard(ish).  Slowly, oh so very very slowly, I regain control.

While Himself is enjoying my Arizona/California desert and where ever the road might lead, I am here…not there.  Divide and conquer is necessity.  This is truly a labor of love, because no dollar amount convinced any landscaper or yard man to tackle this yard (seriously) short of a dozer leveling it completely (or a jungle fire).

This is only half my mess, plus the boundary lies in those thick trees.  The other half of the yard is equally as intense.  It looks simple.  However, every thing green has thorns–big thorns of the evil locust saplings, medium thorns of the spawn-of-Satan vines, and little stickery thorns on some hellish tree-climbing nemesis.  None of which are weed-whacker friendly.  Each one requires hand cutting and sprayed to death, yes, death (I’m not ashamed to say it).  As well, in such clutter of green are blood-sucking, disgusting ticks and other jungle insects.  Bear in mind, I volunteered to manage the home.  No, I’m not sane.  Four out of ten toes have blisters, with bruises from head to toe, no air conditioning until yesterday, and have set a new, all-time record for filth (the daily scrubbing bubbles are no match for my shower)!  Don’t get me wrong, I’m really enjoying myself!  Still, not sane.

Not a tan…that’s just my daily grime! Ewww…I’m growing accustomed.

A while back God laid it on my heart to begin praying for a home for my children to come “home” to.  God answers prayer in His own humorous way!  You know He’s laughing…

“This one will do anything for me, watch this” God says to the angels!

I cannot begrudge any gift from my Father, no matter how much sweat (literally, I’m a desert girl, this 100° with 80% humidity is different!  I’m up to a gallon of tea a day!) equity I give.

So, here am I, changing house to home.  Laying down roots, learning a community, finding a church, doing some volunteer work on the side, and writing all while clearing the jungle (the inside remodel will commence this winter).  Thank God I am mostly able!  Isn’t it marvelous that He equips us mentally and physically to what He has called us!

Current progress.

A work in progress.  Which reminds me of how God sees us.  You look at my yard and think it looks like a big mess.  I look at my yard and smile because I know how far I’ve come in a week’s time (I did take one day off).

When I was in the process of loosing weight fourteen years ago, folks who didn’t know me saw at me as fat.  I saw me skinny because I knew how much I had already lost.  At the time, fifty pounds was a great loss. Those who were not aware of my starting place had no clue.  One hundred pounds later, at the end of the process, the rest of the world still had no clue.

We look at others and see a mess.  We see weeds, thorns, and untamed brambles.  God looks and smiles.  He knows the beginning and He knows the end.  He knows every hell in between.

I think you can see the point I’m trying to make here…don’t judge my yard, you don’t know how far I’ve come…just kidding!

We are all on a journey.  We are all on our OWN journey through the thorny hellish weeds of life.  We are a work in progress.  God promised us; He is faithful to complete it.

Just like my yard, little by little, weed by weed, it is a work in progress.  Stay the course.

Quote 3, with a little help from Disney!

Life is so unnerving for a servant who’s not serving! — From Beauty and the Beast

The last of three quotes.  Thank you Faye for challenging me to step out of my comfort zone.  I’ve never been a big quote person, but when I explored my daily life a bit I found several I use regularly!

Roll with me on this trip if you will…simple song, simple quote, profound meaning.  The level of excitment that follows doing what I am created to do is enchanting!!

Today’s quote might be the one is use most often.  I’m a servant at heart.  After Himself and I sold the restaurant, I missed serving so much I decided to wait tables out of sheer pleasure of serving others.  Allow me to leave you with the warm and fuzzy feeling of being my guest!

The joy I receive from serving others is purely selfish, without it I feel lost.

Thus, I realized God gave me a gift.  Waiting on others, serving others, was not…is not a struggle or a challenge to me, it is my God-given ability to make others feel at home.

When I surrender and give my every heartbeat to he who gave me that heart, I am at peace!  Being who God made me is the highest calling I can achieve, whether it is doing dishes, laundry, or serving another a meal!

Embrace the calling and run with it, in that place you will find peace!

God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful…

1 Corinthians 12:4‭-‬11 MSG

The Prodigal Daughter Goes Home

The panhandle of Oklahoma leaves a lot of desiring.  Cimarron County boasts more cows than humans.  However, this is where my parents decided to teach.  It was a great place for a couple of new kids just starting out back in the 60’s.  My mom taught in the exact same classroom, in the exact same building, in the exact same school for forty-three years.  She taught until she died.  Even driving by evokes tears and today is no exception.

Dear Mom,

Your prodigal daughter finally returned!  I am (sigh) a little late.  You’ve already gone home.  My Father is here to welcome me with His open arms.

It’s an empty feeling to finally come home and find no one here.  I know you waited as long as you could.  I meant to come home sooner.  I got caught in a place of fear and lost my courage.  I am so sorry.  God’s here.  He promised you that His word would not return void.  It hasn’t, I’m here.

so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:11 NIV

I found the blueprints you left me.  I found that old worn-out black Bible with the words highlighted and your notes and prayers scratched in all the empty spaces.  I found notebook after notebook with your prayers and petitions written before God.  You never missed a day asking God to guard my heart.  He did, mom.  He did.

You believed in faith for me while I was out squandering my inheritance.  I see the dried tear drops on the pages of your journals.  Just so you know, God is working miracles.  Even though you are not here with me to celebrate, God is moving in a mighty way.  Something tells me you knew that before you left.  You probably threw a heavenly party in my honor.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
James 5:16 NIV

It’s my turn now mom.  I have my own prodigal chasing after this world.  She needs my unwavering prayers.  She needs me to fight the good fight, she needs me to break some chains.  I’m standing on the faith you taught me.  I’m standing on the words you prayed.  I’m standing on the truths you highlighted in that Bible.  I’m believing she finds her way home to a house full of open arms.  I pray she never know the pain of returning to an empty house.

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Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
Proverbs 22:6 NIV

I’ve come a long ways mom, and I have a long ways to go.  Your prayers left a foundational legacy that God and I intend to build upon.  When God rebuilds, He builds bigger!  He is as you taught–the God of way more, beyond what we can ever imagine (and I can imagine pretty big!).

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6 NIV

I’ll be okay.  I know you don’t worry sitting at the feet of Jesus.  Maybe you get to see the big picture.  God has me in the palm of His hand.  I am safe now.  I just miss you, that’s all.

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