Hurricane Irma – The gift that keeps on giving

Weeks after Hurricane Irma blew through our city and we cleaned up all of the fallen branches and debris, I came home from my walk to find a large branch in my yard. It had been snapped during Irma, but on it’s descent from the tall tree, it’s branches latched on to others and it hung, dying. This morning I broke off the dead branches and hauled them to the curb.

branches

As I was walking back and forth from the large branch to the curb where are yard waste is picked up I began thinking about my previous post about Irma and the storms of life. Because we had just moved into this house, had not yet pruned everything back and prepared for the storm, Hurricane Irma dropped quite a mess in our yard – revealing our failure to plan.

This morning my thoughts quickly pointed to another dead branch in my life that I thought was cleaned up and hauled away, but my recent birthday proved otherwise. I’m a twin and, as explained in my book (Resurrecting the Wrong Life), I spent most of my childhood in her shadow, wanting someone to acknowledge me. Being a twin, you’re oftentimes grouped together in everything – as if you aren’t your own person (at least that is how my mind painted it for me. All. The. Time.)

So, two days ago was our (see what I did there?) birthday and, as usual, my mom posted on Facebook a joint “Happy Birthday” post to her twins. On that post, many of my sister’s friends and some of mine commented with their birthday wishes. My twin also posted a birthday wish on my page, where many of my friends and some of hers commented their birthday wishes. (Roll your pants up, honey, it’s getting petty quickly in here.) Only a handful actually posted a birthday wish on my page – and to me alone, even fewer.

petty

As petty as it was (and yes, I recognize it was petty), it put me in a bad mood on my birthday (on OUR birthday.) Add to that, I had told my husband I didn’t want a gift for my birthday, just for the family to spend time with me (that’s my love language.) So, what did he do?

He didn’t get me anything.

<Increased pettiness and pity party balloons hung>

So back to the branch that fell weeks after the storm.

branch

Here is what I learned this morning – Sometimes in life, the storm will come and drop a mess in your life that you’re forced to clean up. (I did that when I wrote my book.) However, sometimes a couple branches (issues) are held back from falling, only to drop later – revealing they still exist.

I discovered on my birthday – actually the day after when my sister, who is reading my book, pointed out that I was upset because I hadn’t really dealt with feeling like ‘leftovers’ and not being my own person growing up. Another branch just dropped in my yard that I thought was long gone.

Storms are messy. They can leave a mess in our lives that is visible to those around us for days, weeks, months, and even years. (#PrayingForPuertoRico) But they can also lodge a couple branches of our past out of sight, long enough for us to clean up the initial storm, but later drop them onto the scene so we can deal with them.

 

Shake your trees, honey. You may  not be over something from your past that is lodged in your high branches. It just takes one strong wind to bring it crashing to your yard for the world to see. Are you ready?

 

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Be not Anxious

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

How many times have we quoted this passage of Scriptures to others when they were worried or experiencing anxiety over something they were unsure of? Continue reading

When it Looks Hopeless

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is about Esther. She replaced Vashti as queen, who disrespected her husband the king. Nobody knew she was a Jew besides Mordecai, who raised her.

 

While Mordecai was sitting in the king’s gate, he overheard a plot by two of the king’s eunuchs. They were furious and wanted to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. When Mordecai told the matter to Esther, she informed the king and he had it written in the book of the chronicles.

 

Some time goes by before Haman, the highest in command, even above the princes, sought to kill Mordecai. He did not care for him because Mordecai would not pay homage to Haman because he was a Jew. Haman plotted to kill Mordecai and found a way by going after his people, the Jews. With the king’s approval, Haman wrote a decree against the Jews, guaranteeing Mordecai’s death.

 

 

We have all been there; a place where everything is set against us. It looks hopeless and we cannot see how God is going to get us out of the place we find ourselves. You may be there right now. If you are, I want you to take note of how God worked Mordecai’s situation out:

 

Queen Esther agrees to go before the king to save the Jews, even though to do so was risking her life. Back then, unless the king summoned her, she could not approach him. When she did, she found favor with the king and he asked her what she wished, up to half the kingdom. (She had serious favor with him)

 

She asks that he and Haman join her for a banquet.

 

What? Your people are about to die and you want to throw a party? That was my first thought when I read that. Then, when I saw she did it again, asked him to come to another party while at the aforementioned banquet, I figured she was stalling. Let’s see what happens:

 

Mordecai was overjoyed that he alone was invited to this banquet with the king and his bride. He even bragged to his friends and family about it. Yet, when he saw Mordecai, who would still not bow to him (don’t ever give in to your enemy), he became enraged and sulked.

 

“Then his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Let a gallows be made, fifty cubits high, and in the morning suggest to the king that Mordecai be hanged on it; then go merrily with the king to the banquet.” 

And the thing pleased Haman; so he had the gallows made. 

So Mordecai now has two threats on his life. Looks hopeless, doesn’t it? Check out what happens:

 

It says in Esther 6 that the king couldn’t sleep that night. He gets up and decides to read from the book of the chronicles. While reading, he finds how Mordecai had saved his life from the disgruntled employees. Not only that, but Haman is wondering around in the court, so the king summons him.

 

Of all people, the king asks Haman what should be done for the man the king wishes to honor. Haman, believing the king must be talking about him, draws this glorious picture of the man riding on one of the king’s choice horses with a robe the king has worn, all while it is proclaimed, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!”

 

So, first we see how God woke the king up to discover the goodness of Mordecai. (Those good deeds you thought nobody saw- God did, and He’ll use them when/if needed) Then, Haman is the one who decides how you should be honored, but doesn’t realize it’s for you so he makes it good. (“The wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous” Proverbs 13:22- The enemy will pay for your blessings) Finally, Haman goes to the banquet with the king and Esther reveals that he tried to kill her people and the king hangs Haman on the very gallows he had built for Mordecai.

 

God will work things out. Don’t be discouraged, no matter where you find yourself today. If you remain faithful to your Lord, He will come through for you!

Golgotha beats a Full house

Place the hot coals on my lips
As I deny such a disquieting vice
Rip off the fingers that reach
For the pistol prepared for roulette
Sear my eyes closed while I walk
Down aisles offering to satiate
Shove a stick or two and beat my drums
So I no longer hear these demons hum
A ransom has been offered
For the child to come back to Sheol
Back where she can play and laugh
Laugh at
Emptiness
Foolishness
Randomness
Ignorance
Stupidity
Tripping
Slipping
Sinking
Further
Down.
Place the paper on these trembling legs
As I try to pen some of these feelings out
Rid myself of haunting words
For a chance to rest tonight
Sear the portal existing
Down in the nadir of despair
Shove back the devils that tempt
So tonight I do not succumb
A ransom was offered
For this child to overcome
Back on a cross at Golgotha

Have sex God’s way

How does God really feel about sex? Looking at some of the scriptures in the Bible I would say that He’s all for it. (Not a newsflash, I know) God created sex. Everything God created was good. The problem comes in with the devil.

 Looking at the law of first mention

“In the Beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth and it was GOOD.”
What happened?

Tohuw and Bohuw

What is that, you say? “without form and void.” The actual translation from the Torah says “Tohuw and Bohuw. If you look those words up you’ll come to the conclusion and answer I did: the devil. Somewhere between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 is where Isaiah 14:12 comes in.

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!”

When Satan fell to the earth he brought Tohuw and Bohuw with him so all that was created “good” became infected. Including sex.

  • God never intended for people to be ashamed of their bodies- that was the devil’s doing.
  • God never intended for people to have sex outside of the covenant of marriage- devil’s doing.
  • God never intended for sex to be an act of self-gratification- devil’s doing.
  • God never intended for people to need to ask questions about sex- devil’s doing.

God is all for an intimate, open relationship between a husband and wife without any form of fear. Unfortunately, today what you find is fear in many different forms haunting and polluting married couples.

Women come into marriage thinking that they must be XY and Z in order to be a good wife. Sometimes past relationships paralyze their ability to enjoy their husband intimately. Other times they’re plagued with images of women in such a fashion that they don’t feel beautiful any longer, or they feel they are only loved for the wrong reasons.

Likewise, men have been so invaded with images of women that it is difficult for them to keep their minds pure and faithful to their spouse. Another issue men face is the unreasonable expectations women hold for their husbands based off of fantasy novels and “fairytale” movies and television shows. Most of the expectations women enter a marriage with are nothing more than unattainable.

So what do you do?

Have sex God’s way.

  1. Keep your mind set on things above- I don’t mean to think about God while having sex, either. I mean to keep your mind (soul) centered on the things that please God. Pornography, lust, manipulation and selfishness are not of God.
  2. Do everything in love. I am not talking about just loving the person you are with. Walk in love when it comes to that person. Be patient, kind, don’t envy, don’t seek your own, don’t be easily provoked or behave rudely, believe the best of your partner, hope for the best and endure everything that comes.
  3. Another part that goes with love- “Perfect love casts out fear.” When you really love someone, there should be no fear. You shouldn’t fear whether or not they’ll cheat on you, whether they really love you or if they might hurt you. If you have any of those fears then you need to work on your concept of love. (noted)

I’m going to end with this thought: If God created sex and it is “good”- why are so many people settling for the alternative the devil has offered?

Studying the Bible Naked

“And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” Genesis 2:25

 “You will never be naked and unashamed until you can be naked and unashamed with yourself.” ~ Yvylyn Lawson

When you are ashamed it is because you feel condemned. You are judging yourself against something, whether it is the Word, friends, family, society or your own personal endeavors.

~Condemnation keeps you ugly, unworthy and unnoticed.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not

walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in

Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1

     I have had low self esteem most of my life. The things I saw in myself nobody else did. The compliments continued to come, but I became ugly in my own eyes. When that took place my self-worth deteriorated as well. I didn’t feel I deserved the love of my husband; I only made friends with people I felt I could measure up to; and I overworked at everything to try and find worth.

     As I said before, the compliments continued even though I thought I was ugly. Likewise, all of my efforts were recognized, accolades were given. Yet, everything I did went unnoticed to my mind because I knew those things that I didn’t do, or realized how much more I could have done.

     I became my worst critic. Nothing I did mattered, nothing I had to offer was good enough and I never looked good enough in my own eyes. The underlying root in all of these is sin, and my knowledge of it. Our cognizants of the sins we commit often times blinds us and keeps us in shame; paralyzing our ability to keep growing.

“Forgive and you will be forgiven… For with the same measure that you use, it

will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:37b, 38b

First of all, that includes YOU! If you don’t forgive yourself then God can’t. I didn’t say He won’t… He can’t. That scripture, like many others in the Bible, is a spiritual law (principle). God follows those laws just as there are natural laws that we must follow.

~Law of gravity~ The gravitational (natural force of attraction) of the mass of a celestial object (as earth) for bodies close to it.

On Earth, if you throw something up then it must come down due to the law of gravity. On the moon, that law does not apply. In the spiritual realm there are laws as well. God gave us these laws so that we could operate and live effectively with them. He is not trying to keep people in sin or give them room to be unforgiven.

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promises, as some count slackness,

but is longsufferingtoward us (you), not willing that any should perish but that

all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

So we must forgive ourselves. Period. It doesn’t mean to justify what you did. Forgiveness is recognizing what Jesus di on the cross to cover your sins and make you the righteousness of God as enough. If you can’t forgive yourself then you are bound by those sins. When you are boung then you will never see the beauty God has put into you and wants to show through you.

 

“Likewise, we will become sick with ourselves if we reflect back on all that we have done in life . In fact, one of the quickest ways to resurrect your old self is to begin remembering the “old days”. You risk the spirit of shame and guilt overtaking you if you are not careful.”

Resurrecting the Wrong Life~ Yvylyn Lawson

The Bible tells us to forget those things behind us. We have to let go of all of the failures, mistakes and even the intentional sins we have committed. Until we do, we are still placing ourselves under their control. If you are born again then the Spirit should be what controls you, not your past. When you see yourself through the eyes of God and what He says about you in His Word, then you will have no reason to be unashamed.

 

“When we hold on to a part of our past that has hurt us we are actually giving it control of our lives. In my marriage, my past hurts were controlling my marriage and the love that I would release or receive. We must render our past helpless, yet more and more we are helping it control us by submitting to its’ trap of fear and resentment.  “

Resurrecting the Wrong Life ~ Yvylyn Lawson

 

I began writing this from notes that I had taken. I had just ran a couple miles, came home and mowed the lawn, and was trying to cool down. I took my shower but when I got out, my body temperature was still pretty high. So I didn’t want to get dressed. As I sat on my bed with just my towel on, I picked up my Bible to do some reading and wait to return to a cooler temperature before getting dressed.

While reading, my towel, which I had not sufficiently secured, fell to both sides of me. My first reaction of course was to stop reading and cover myself once more. It was at that moment that God spoke to me and said, “Why are you so ashamed?”

We both knew why and I started to cry. I didn’t like the way I looked and didn’t want anyone else, not even myself, to see my naked body. No, there was nobody else in the room, but be honest with yourself: when was the last time you studied the Bible completely naked?

Then, this thought came to mind: We cover ourselves with clothing, blankets, towels, make up, hats, shoes and personas because we’re trying to cover the very thing God fashioned us to be. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting we all start walking through life literally naked. It is time, though, for us to shed the fears, shame, masks, hesitations and doubts. Get before God and let yourself be naked. Let Him see those areas of your life that you’re trying to ignore or cover. It is only then (through admission and repentance) that you’ll be able to be naked and not ashamed…

 

Sexual Purity

This is the start of random thoughts about sexual purity; what’s right, what is wrong and where are we going?

To start off I want to quote Lisa Bevere’s Book, “Kissed the Girls and Made them Cry” :

“I believe God wants to tell you a bedtime story, to rock back to sleep what’s been so rudely awakened. One to softly lull passions back to a place of waiting and resting in slumber, a story to restore to a dreamlike state what was awakened before its time. A place where fears are calmed and hope is restored. A haven where shame is not permitted, and everything is fresh, new and clean as flowers after a spring rain.”

 Whether God needs to rock back to sleep desires or actions that have woken before the marriage covenant; pain and memories that have bombarded your psyche so that true love cannot breathe, or thoughts and imaginations that have been inundated with images and suggestions from today’s society- God never intended for our souls to drown in a society of promiscuity and lust. It’s time that we remember what love is, what sex is meant to be, and experience that which God created for us to, under the confines of marriage: a healthy, enjoyable intimacy with our partners.

 I wrote a sermon a while back called Prayer and Sex. It was a side-by-side view of how the two mirror each other in many facets. One of those was intimacy. In too many marriages (and Christians) intimacy is nothing more than going through motions, saying the right words and occasionally having a “feeling.”

Prayer should be nothing more than an intimate time with the Father. When we pray we are having a conversation with our Maker. It is not meant to be a time of ritualistic recitals of common prayers and/or mundane expressions of our “want’ list to an All-powerful, untouchable Great Power. It is the time that we are welcomed to come and dine with Him. A time when we can not only tell Him how we are feeling or express our needs, but also when He has the floor to speak to us.

Think about a close friend you once had but no longer communicate with. Now ask yourself why you stopped talking to them? Did you move? Did they? Was their an argument of some sort that has put up a wall between the two of you? Or, which is often the case, have your lives just taken different paths now and each other are not in them?

Now consider what it would take to have that relationship blossom once more? It would take TALKING.

Intimacy is nothing more than talking. When we are intimate with God, our Father, we talk to Him. We don’t just give him our “gimme” lists. We don’t just recite age-old prayers or repetitious expressions of intercession. We talk to Him; and we listen as He talks to us.

Sex is the same thing: a man and a woman speaking to each other; to the other’s mind, body and spirit. Intimacy is supposed to be a time of complete trust and surrender. Why is it then that so many people struggle with what is supposed to be care-free and liberating? Why is the most important relationship in a person’s life often wreaked with uncertainty and doubt?

Over the course of this exploration to find answers to those questions and many more I am going to touch base on some things that I have been asked, whether by friends or people I have counseled. I will talk about:

  • How far is too far?
  • What parents are teaching their kids by what they are listening to, reading and watching.
  • What to do if you’ve already gone “too far”?
  • What is hurting girls and boys of all ages.
  • How to heal from past abuse or promiscuity.
  • How we lose when we give in.

I hope you will take this journey with me over the next couple weeks. This is a public site where I know my writings will be seen,but this is also going to be my wall for expression, my canvas of pain, tears and trials and my map of exploration. Blessings and Shalom