Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Special Guest Post, "What If.. Life Has Made Me Cynical?" by Haelie Heard

The other day when I was listening to Lee Strobel on the radio, he said something that struck a nerve with me.

When describing three different types of people who choose to not believe in God, one of them was very familiar to me.

The cynical nurse.

The nurse he described was cynical for many life reasons beyond her career. Those reasons are something with which we can all easily relate. Relationships gone bad – repeatedly. Being let down by those you once looked up to and respected. Loss of many kinds, whether by physical death or various other types of separation. So many reasons to be cynical and hardened by life.

Then there’s the nurse part.

That’s what struck me most.

You see, I am a nurse. And, for many years, I was the cynical nurse. I knew and still know many other cynical nurses.

Why do we caregivers often share that common trait?

Yes, the various life struggles and disappointments I previously mentioned do play into our commonalities—but what makes us, as nurses, share in the overwhelming cynicism?

Our job.

I know, caring for others seems so glorious and rewarding and ooey gooey with warm fuzzy feelings of doing good…from the outsider’s perspective, at least.

Imagine—it is the night shift in the ICU (the 3rd of 7 in a row) and you have one patient who is teetering on the brink of literal death all night long and requires untold amounts of energy, attention, and awareness from you – physically, mentally, emotionally…all of you. AND, you have another patient to care for who is just hitting that magic hour of “delirium tremens” (a.k.a. “DT’s”) in which their alcohol withdrawal symptoms have become extremely severe to the point of uncontrollable mental status changes as well as serious physical manifestations. The latter patient, when you are able to break away from the other’s bedside and come and care for him, is physically and verbally lashing out at you – the caregiver – the one who is doing everything within your power to help keep him safe and alive. In addition to all of this stressful patient care, which is your top priority, you also have to make sure to document thoroughly, accurately, and in a timely manner everything you are doing throughout your shift as you care for these patients. After all, you never know when someone or their family may come back and name you and/or the hospital in a lawsuit regarding the time that this patient was under your care in the hospital.

There are many other factors I could describe to you that play into this whole patient care thing, but I think you are getting the idea.

By the end of the shift, and definitely by the end of the seven shifts in a row, you are at your wit’s end – exhausted beyond comprehension…physically, mentally, and emotionally. This is not what you signed up for. This is not what your caring, sympathetic heart was feeling led to do. At this point, just knowing your patients both survived through the night – and you did, too – is quite a relief.

Then, the mind games kick in…

“I should have done that better.” “Did I forget to check that lab value on the DT patient while my other patient was being resuscitated?” “If I had only thought to do ____, my patient may not have almost died tonight.”

And on, and on, and on it goes.

And so goes the formation of layers of cynicism in the life of a nurse.

We somehow let ourselves, as caregivers and healthcare providers, take on the feelings of ultimate responsibility of a patient’s life and death. True, much of that can lie in our hands in certain situations. BUT, we can so easily get swooped up into the whirlwind of thinking that our patient’s life is something we are ultimately in control of and responsible for and at fault for if their life is harmed or even ends on our watch.

Yes, I know we do need to realize and not take lightly the important role we play in the life of a patient. Trust me, as a whole, we do. This is why we struggle with sleeping and caring for ourselves like we know we should. We worry. We fret. We then, to cope, begin to harden and become more and more cynical. It’s what we do.

Mind you, I am speaking for myself and many others, though I know I do not speak for all nurses and healthcare professionals.

So, my point with all of this?

Well, as a new nurse I went down this cynical road. It was a very tough one. It just so happens that I was also deliberately running away from God during this time as well. Denying everything I knew to be true about Him – The Truth. Trusting in what I saw in front of me daily at work – death, addiction, child abuse, negligence, self-destruction, cancer, disease, and those who thought they could just dial in the perfect recipe and fix all of those people’s problems and ailments.

The sand kept washing out from under me. I was always struggling just to remain standing. I had no solid foundation beneath my feet. No matter what I told myself, I knew my God was not who I was trying to make Him out to be. I knew He had never changed, but that I was the one who had changed. I knew I had no power to help these people and literally save their life on my own. I knew that I did not have the energy, strength, knowledge, nor endurance to do this job of a nurse day in and day out and survive unscathed. I knew that I could not do this alone. I knew that His ways are higher than mine and any patient’s or doctor’s.

I knew all of these things deep down. But I chose instead to cover up these things I knew with layers and layers of cynicism and doubt in my God, my Father, my Daddy. The One who all along was holding His arms out to me saying, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

It was only when I did just that – came to Him with my burdens and trusted in Him alone – only then did I find rest and freedom.

The life of self-reliance only leads to burden and bondage and guilt and helplessness.

His yoke – trusting in Him alone – is the only way to true rest and peace and freedom.

When you do finally decide to give up the struggle against what you feel tugging in your heart from His Spirit, you too will know a life of freedom and life like you have never before experienced. I did not say a life of ease and without difficulty…but even the difficult times will be different because the well of His Living Water will be springing up inside you, refueling you all along the way with an unending supply of His Eternal Life.

In that day you will say:

“I will praise you, LORD. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. Isaiah 12:1-3


You can find this post entitled, "What if..Life Has Made Me Cynical?"  at Haelie's blog, To Not Decide Is To Decide. Please take time to visit Haelie and join her blog. Let her know that you have been blessed, by simply sharing your heart with her.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Courage To Love (Special Guest Post by Jennifer Odem White)

Many of us have been hurt – really hurt by someone we love. It’s natural after that happens to guard ourselves from letting that happen again. We get gun shy with how much we will share, how much we “show up” emotionally and how honest we are willing to be. The way we act out the protection of our heart varies from person to person. But the bottom line is we are building a fortress for our fear.

One day I boldly asked God “WHY” He created males and females to offer and need love so differently. I felt like it was cruel joke that could never be resolved. He heard my desperate question and began to show me His perspective.

I began to see that God loves us despite how different we are from him. He’s so perfect and we are so not perfect. And yet He steps into our lives and provides forgiveness, patience, kindness, guidance, wisdom, intervention, and more. He knows that He will not receive from me an equal portion of anything He can give me. But He is faithful to me. He shows up. He gives. He chooses to give me what I do not deserve.

So how do I muster up the courage to love like Jesus loves me and others? I have to ignore my feelings, my pain, and invite the perfection of Jesus living in me to love that person through me. I am called to love Jesus by obeying Him and His command to love others. All of this takes courage!

Where do you get the courage to love….

•the unlovable

•the one who hurt you

•the one who hurt someone you love

•the one who doesn’t make the same life choices as you do

Are you courageous enough to live out Luke 6:27-38 (God’s Word translation)

Love your enemies. Be kind to those who hate you. 28Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who insult you. 29If someone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other cheek as well. If someone takes your coat, don’t stop him from taking your shirt. 30Give to everyone who asks you for something. If someone takes what is yours, don’t insist on getting it back.

31“Do for other people everything you want them to do for you.

32“If you love those who love you, do you deserve any thanks for that? Even sinners love those who love them. 33If you help those who help you, do you deserve any thanks for that? Sinners do that too. 34If you lend anything to those from whom you expect to get something back, do you deserve any thanks for that? Sinners also lend to sinners to get back what they lend. 35Rather, love your enemies, help them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then you will have a great reward. You will be the children of the Most High God. After all, he is kind to unthankful and evil people. 36Be merciful as your Father is merciful.


Find this post on Jennifer's blog at and vist Jennifer's blog, Prayerfully Speaking. It is surely to become a favorite stop of yours. To find out more about Jennifer and where to contact her vist her blog:)

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Sweet Testimony Of God's Grace by Colie Maxwell

A few days ago I was invited to share a testimony with you of a young woman. A young woman whom I've never met, but through the grace of God, our paths have been brought together for only a purpose greater than my own. I love when I get to witness God moving. When we share from our hearts, feelings, raw emotions and all, we draw closer to one another. We come to understand one another and we get a glimpse of the life before us. The life that God is creating glory through. I invite you to read Colie's testimony. It is a story that will change your heart and open your vision to a great and mighty God filled with grace and passion. This is Colie's story..

I was born three months premature. Because of that, my eyes have poor vision and the surrounding muscles are underdeveloped. This made me look different. So, as is often the case with those seen as “different,” I grew up the odd girl out. I was made fun of by students, teachers, friends, and family. Alcoholism and critical words plagued my home life. I had no escape or comfort. I believed in God but had no relationship with Him, and I didn’t grow up in the church. I had one best friend who was manipulative and controlling. She was my friend when it was convenient.

I was bullied all through elementary school and Jr. High school. In seventh grade, I moved to a new school. I was shy and afraid and did my best to be invisible. Unfortunately, I couldn’t help but be seen, and the verbal abuse continued from every side. One of my teachers even called me an “ugly duckling” in front of the entire school cafeteria. My mom found out that I had no friends and threatened to place me in private school. I felt like a loser. Like I was worthless.The first time I cut myself, I was twelve years old. I felt like no one cared whether or not I was alive. No one liked me. I wasn’t pretty enough.

By my freshman year of high school, I started to learn how to fit in. I dyed and straightened my hair, removed my braces, got contacts, and started wearing make-up. Despite my outward appearance, I was broken and hurting inside more than I could put into words. When I was 14, I started struggling with anorexia. I began to restrict my food intake in hopes of becoming more physically attractive. At the age of 16, the sum of my repressed pain and my fear of the world drove me into a deep depression, and at that point, I started counseling. After three months and making no progress, I put on a happy face and left counseling.

I decided to escape into extracurricular activities. By the time I was 17, I was in color guard, student council, varsity cheerleading, and track. Because of my intense physical activities in sports, my struggle with my eating disorder quieted, and I started eating healthier. Over my four years in high school, I became the image of a perfect life. I graduated with a 3.3 GPA. I coached young girls in cheerleading, volunteered at concession stands, and was on the homecoming court. I was accepted into the college of my choice and I had a plan for my life. All the while, on the inside, I was depressed, empty, and above all, without hope. I ran from my pain and was drowning in self-hatred.

My freshman year of college started, and anxiety and depression hit me head on. I didn’t eat or sleep. Seven years of uncried tears flooded from my eyes. I went to class often enough to get by, but I couldn’t focus at all. I was dying inside and starving for hope. I started attending a Christian fellowship at school. For the first time in my life, I had Christian friends, and I was learning about God and His love for me. He became my hope and purpose. I wanted to know Him more, and at 18, I accepted Him into my heart.

Soon after, my atheist roommate wanted nothing more than to prove to me there was no God. She tried convince me that Jesus was not real and she took away the little hope I had been clinging to.It was then when I hit rock bottom and found myself lost in darkness. I started cutting again to numb the pain. I went home to start counseling again and started attending a community college. I was diagnosed with severe depression, and as is common, they put me on anti-depressants. Even with medication, I was still unable to handle the pain and was screaming with self-hatred. The cutting quickly went from an addiction to an obsession. I couldn’t make it through the day without ripping myself apart.

When the semester ended, I left counseling and moved to Ohio for a summer job at an amusement park called Cedar Point. I was happy to be out on my own and away from home. Once I settled in, the pain inside me started screaming again. Self-harm had a death grip on my life. I brought razor blades to work just to get through my shift with a smile. I found a Christian fellowship and started going to life groups. One of the girls tried to help me stop cutting, but I kept trying to quit in my own strength but couldn’t.

At this point, my spiritual mom suggested that I apply to Mercy Ministries, a residential Christian counseling program for troubled girls; but, I insisted I was fine and didn’t need to go. However, I knew something needed to change. I went back to the doctor and he prescribed a stronger medication. Still, the pain inside grew to be unbearable. I started abusing over the counter and prescription drugs to the point of becoming numb. I felt hopeless and dead inside. I attempted suicide by overdose twice that summer.

In the fall, I went back to school. I tried to run from the hurt again. I joined color guard and got involved in a co-ed fraternity. I lived off campus in a house with two other Christian girls who I became very close friends. My spiritual mom and best friend lived about five minutes away. They did everything they could to help me, but I wasn’t doing anything to help myself so I grew worse. I started counseling again. I put a smile on, went through the motions as expected, but I was falling apart even faster. Eventually, I was no longer able to function. I began skipping all my classes. I stopped eating altogether. I would either not sleep at all or sleep all day. I wanted so badly to die and just escape this world and the mess I had made of my life. I finally decided to apply to Mercy Ministries, because I had no other options. I knew only God could save me. Unfortunately, even as I was going through the application process, I continued to spiral further down. I again attempted suicide and hoped never to wake up, but (God had other plans for me because) I woke up the next morning with no ill affects from the attempt. Shortly after this I admitted myself to the hospital and was placed into a psychiatric ward.

I reached out for help from my friends. I withdrew from school and went home to live with my parents. They monitored me for cutting and suicide attempts. I was not to be left alone; my parents even distributed my medications so they could be sure I was taking them properly. I began seeing a counselor again. For three months, my parents did their best to get me through. They fought for me because I had completely given up on myself. Because I could no longer cut, I resorted to tattoos and piercings. Though I was angry and rebellious, God used my time at home with my parents to begin restoring our relationship.

Just when I thought I couldn’t hang on any longer, I got the call that I was accepted into Mercy and had a spot in the Louisiana home. The day I got there, I was excited and terrified at the same time. At first, I chose to act out in my issues instead of going to staff members for help when I was struggling. Because of that, I was placed on probation. During my time at Mercy, I learned to ask for help, trust God, and focus on Him rather than my issues. It wasn’t a fun experience, but I am so very thankful that I went through it. I don’t think I would have stopped cutting if I hadn’t had that opportunity.

Mercy, for me, has been an incredible journey. It is also the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. Giving up is easy, but fighting against the devil is not! It isn’t my war though, it’s God’s, and the war has already been won! Mercy has equipped me with the armor to live victoriously in the freedom Jesus died to give me. I have a choice. I can choose life over death, faith over fear, and His unconditional love over my self-hatred. I am not a bad person. I am an imperfect sinner saved by grace, and nothing I could ever do will ever make Him love me less. I am not alone; God will never leave me or forsake me. I am forgiven, and I have a life worth living. God has healed my broken heart. He has restored my emotions and my hope. In Christ, I am strong, pure, and beloved.

Friends take a few moments and visit Mercy Ministries and pray for Colie. She will be stopping in and I know she would love to hear from you. We all have a story worth hearing. Your story may be what brings change to another heart.

Colie, sweet blessings to you as you continue to grow in the Lord and walk this journey. Thank you for sharing your testimony with me and my readers. God knew before breath was breathed into you what a blessing you would be. You are a treasure
and you bring hope to many who are hurting. Thank you for adding joy to my heart.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Waiting For A Bad Day

Has everything in your life been going good and somewhere in the back of your mind your waiting for that bad day to happen? I mean, how long do things go well before the bad day comes out of no where? If your like me, you might have a few of those thoughts swirling around in your noggin.

If your close to me and know me well you know I struggle with anxiety. I have had panic attacks for over ten years now. They are mostly under control, but I can wake up in the middle of the night and be fearful right there in the comfort of my room. They are much better than when they started out, but still there roaming and waiting for that unsuspecting moment to hit out of no where.

Over the past few weeks, I'd say even the last month, I've been very anxious. It's like I've known something is about to happen. I just don't know when, but I know it's coming. It's like I can feel it under my skin. You know, in the deepest part of your fearful momma heart, you know it's coming. Dreams and thoughts have just scattered my mind with fear.

Oh, you don't even have to say it. I will say it for you. There is no fear in faith. You cannot walk in faith and worry at the same time. Believe me, I know. It's not even so much that it was worry. I had this feeling so it was an addition to my prayer life.

As a momma I pray for my children each morning. I pray for them throughout the day. I send little texts telling them I love them and I'm just saying a prayer for them. But since these feelings have disturbed my comfort and peace, I went to prayer even more so. I have prayed more and I have been more specific. I have prayed for each step I could possibly think of. My prayer time with the Lord didn't quiet those feelings, but it did quiet my spirit. I knew with my prayers, God had everything under control. Goodness, He knows my children's steps far more than I do.

Over the weekend, my son and I, went shopping. As we were headed for the city, we were approaching a yellow light. I slowed, but the car in front of me slammed on their brakes. I hurried to stop. Stop I did NOT. As I hit my brakes there was NOTHING. It seemed that we even sped faster as we approached this car. It seemed like I said, "Jesus" under my breath and before I knew it we were there. Only there was a way out. A turning lane. So, that's where I headed. There were NO cars in that lane. None! The other lights were red, so the oncoming cars were all stopped. I turned in speed and we began to slow down. My brakes then began working. With my shaky knees, I pulled into a parking lot. My first words were, "Praise God!" I couldn't believe what had just happened. It happened before a blink of an eye. I should have hit that car stopped in front of me. That lane I turned in is usually filled with cars. It didn't make sense. I knew it wasn't luck. It was the Lord and His protection.

I began thinking, "Okay, Lord, was that what You were trying to tell me? Was it me who was to be cautious?" My prayers for my children continued even more fervently.

This morning we all wake at 5:30. I was gathering my thoughts when I knew I was to write a post today entitled, "Waiting For A Bad Day". It was upon my heart to share my anxiousness. Only I didn't know the Lord would have much more for me to share by the time this post was written.

I begin the coffee. My son is preparing his lunch for work and my hubs is slowly getting around. Normally, my hubs would not be home, but he is home today. As my son walks out the door I grab my coffee and my hubs heads back to sleep for a bit. Jake walks out the door saying, "Love ya Mom, love ya Dad", and we say, "Love ya. Be safe".

With coffee sitting next to my bedside, I begin my prayers for my children. I'm drinking coffee and my hubs phone is ringing. I look and it's Jake. My heart stirs. I know. In this slit second before I answer, I'm thinking, Please Jesus, let him be okay.

I hear his voice. I know he's crying and shaken terribly. He shares he's had an accident. He says, "Mom, I think I'm okay, but the car is gone". Like I'm even thinking about the car.

I wake my hubs. I have my jams on and I slid on my ugg boots and I say, "We gotta go". Hubs speaks to our son and he puts the phone down and says, "Hon, where are you going? We all won't fit in the truck on the way home". He walks out the door and it doesn't even close all the way. I'm left standing there. I immediately fall to the ground. I'm on my face and It's just me, momma, crying out to the Lord. "Please, keep him safe". Then my prayers move to, "Thank You, Jesus! Thank You, for keeping Your protective hand upon our son".

I felt His grace. His mercy. His goodness. His everything. All wrapped up with a bow tied in love.

My son ran into the back of a flatbed truck going about fifty miles per hour. He went under the truck. Since he didn't hit high enough, his seat belt didn't hold and the airbag didn't go off. The car, although not a complete mess, was issued as totaled. My son kicked his way out of that car with nothing more than a bloody lip.

I had talked with my son over the phone. I had heard his voice, but I wasn't going to be okay until I had my arms around him.

This has been a morning of prayer and praise for the Prater family. For many of you, you have joined me in both. I am forever thankful for your prayers.

I realized this morning that the Lord knew what today was going to bring. He knew the steps my son would take and He too knew there would be an accident. He was preparing my heart to fervent prayer. He knew the prayer my son was needing for his journey today.

He not only was preparing my heart for prayer for my children, but He was changing my heart. Through prayer He was bringing peace and trust. Through sharing with the Lord, trusting Him, and surrendering ALL to Him, He set my heart free.

There is more to this story. As the police came to the crash, one of the men who was in the flatbed was arrested on spot. Turns out the police had been searching for this man and he had many outstanding warrants. My son was not issued a ticket. The officer came to my son and said, "It's your lucky day. Your not getting a ticket today. Because of your accident you helped us apprehend a wanted criminal".

I'd like to share with that officer the simple fact that there was no luck involved. It was all the Lord.

Friends, don't quiet the Spirit when He calls you to prayer. If your feeling anxious, share with the Lord. Open your heart to Him.  I've realized there isn't much I have control over in this world. The only things I have control over is my actions and my response to others. That's about it. There isn't anything that goes beyond the vision of the Lord. He sees our path and He knows just what we need.

I seen a quote a few days ago, "An unanswered prayer is a prayer not spoken". This is so true. Wise words to live by. We must pray and pray without ceasing.

Our day could have ended out differently. I've asked myself today, "If today would have ended differently, would you still be praising God?" Friends, that's a tough question. So with that, lets take it one day at a time. One moment at a time. The more I know of the Lord, the more I know of His mercies.

What am I learning? I must welcome those bad days just as much am I'm hospitable to the good days. Yes! In those bad days, just like today, God has something bigger for us to see beyond anything we could possibly envision. Just as the man was apprehended today. The blessings of today are endless. Just endless, like God's mercies. God gives grace for those good days and even more so for those bad. He is so good.

If I'm willing to take those good days I too must accept the bad. See, God has a way of turning ash into beauty. I've had bad days. I've had days that bring me to my knees. I've had days I didn't think I was going to recover from. There are days I wanna run from and some that have caused me to want to end it all. The glory of it all? I didn't give up. I didn't end it all. Although I ran, the Lord brought me right back. I'm still here today and from each and every bad day I can honestly tell you, they have brought me to the woman of God I am today.

So, the next time you hear someone say, "Man, I'm having a bad day", remind them to go to the Lord in prayer. Pray for them. Take everything to the Lord in prayer. He is good to answer. He is good to give. He is good to meet our needs. The Son always has a way of shining a rainbow upon our deepests storm. The Savior has a way of filling us with grace and mercies that bring brand new perspective.

"Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again-rejoice!" Philippians 4:4

"Don't worry about anything: Instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Don't Fear The Spork In The Road

Photo Supplied by

I never liked using those sporks they hand out. I mean, what is that? A spoon? A fork? Well, of course, lets combine them and make a spork. Seems like foolishness, doesn't it? I mean why not just choose one or the other? Decisions are not so easy, especially when the pathway isn't clear. So, yes, sometimes as we stand at the fork in the road, in our confusion it can look more like a spork. Really, a fork in the road can be confusing enough, but a spork?

So, what do we do? Most of the time we turn to friends and ask, "Which way should I go?" Although this seems like the most optional decision, doesn't it? When we listen to our friends, we end up taking advice that is meant for them. It's easy to give advice, but when it comes to needing it, that's more delicate and not so easy.

When our parents taught us to look both ways before crossing the street was wisdom we could carry all through life. lol We just never invisioned on seeing a spork! Then it just seemed as if our parents were putting more rules on us. But, that was wisdom wrapped in love. In our decisions we should remember to look both ways. Look at both options before us. Look deeply. Not just at today, but down the road. Past that spork facing us.

A good notion to keep in our heart is to remember at times before we can take a step forward we must take a step back. Step back and look at the whole picture. The most important aspect of making a decision is going to the Lord in prayer. I'm not so great at patience. In fact, it's a struggle for me. Even in decision making and praying. It would be nice to have our decision right now, wouldn't it? Everything in God's perfect timing. See, the thing we forget, He sees past what our vision is able to grasp. He sees past tomorrow and yes, past our decision. So, who better to turn to? Jesus has those answers to our spork situations.

Although waiting is hard, the Lord does some of His greatest work in our hearts while we are waiting upon His answer. If your like me, you have moved too quickly in your decision and as it turns out, you should have gone the other way. Am I right? Even in those times when we choose to go off on our own and take a right instead of a left, God is there to show us the pathway of His choosing. He has a way of working things out for His mighty purpose in our lives. But, what's better is to wait upon the Lord and follow His calling. Oh, how I wish I would have spent more time in prayer in many situations in my life instead of going half cocked off on my own.

What's wrong in going to our friends for advice is the fact that they are not privy to God's calling for our life. A great decision would be to go to our friends and simply ask them to pray for us as we are preparing to make a decision. There is no greater or lesser decision. In fact, every decision we make effects the next. Our decision also has an affect on those around us.

Decision making is a process. It's a journey and it's not to be taken lightly. Believe it or not there is beauty to found in decision making. It's the place we call upon the Lord. It's a time of searching. We question what is before us. So, why make a hasty decision? Why not give yourself time? It's during this journey we not only learn more about the Lord, but about ourselves. Many times we put too much thought into what others will think of our decision. In fact, the only measure of our decision making should be to measure our decision to the Word of God.

In the end, we stand at the spork in the road in hopes it doesn't get broken. In hopes we make the right choice and find our way. The only way to assure our decision is the right one is to wait upon the Lord. Not to just to pray about the choice at hand, but all that is involved. We often think the most important decisions in life are where to go to school, who to marry, what job to take, where to live, where to send our kids to school and so on, but there is something most of us miss while focusing on those decisions. Every decision we make up to that point has affect on that very decision. So, see, as we walk wise, we make wise decisions that will lead to blessings to be uncovered. We must learn to trust the Lord with each and every decision. Knowing He has the answer, takes the load of us. It lessons the burden.

Many times there is a timeline to needing to know our definite answer. We get anxious and that's when we start making unwise decisions. Learn to wait upon the Lord. Learn His voice. The more time spent with Him the more we will recognize when He is speaking to us. He speaks to us through His Word.

See the thing is, when we come to that spork in the road, that is an opportunity for God to shine. He can take that spork and turn it into a blessing we were not expecting. Others can see in our calmness a God in control. We can show the world we have no fear when it comes to sporks. It's all good, because we have a God who makes clear just a spork is. (If your like me, it's a thought to ponder lol)

With Christ in the lead there is no need to fear the spork!

"Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil." 1 Thessalonians 5:18-22

"For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find Me." Jeremiah 29:11-13

"We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps." Proverbs 16:9

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take." Proverbs 3:5-6

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Lonely Pew

Jackie is nervous this morning. She doesn't quite know what to wear. It's jeans and an worn pair of tennis shoes that  fill up most of her closet. She has changed clothes five times now and it's almost time to leave.

She was invited to church by girl from school who she sits next to in fifth hour. Things haven't been going super for her over the last few years. Jackie has felt alone and left out. At times she has felt as though her world has been torn apart. Is there really a God who lets junk just happen to us?

Jackie picks an outfit finally and slowly opens the door to leave home. She hears her mom shout, "Just where do you think your going missy?" Her momma starts her day off with a drink and ends it pretty much the same way. God has never set foot in their home. Spoken or otherwise. Sadly, Jackie doesn't know if she should tell her mom that she is attending church this morning. She finds the strength, somewhere, and the words are out before she can take them back.

She feels the slap redden her cheek. Jackie hears the words, "Who are you kidding? Church? You think your going to be accepted by those hypocrites?" Jackie is out the door without another word.

Her daddy has been in prison for the last five years for robbery and drug running. She has no family to speak of really. A brother, but they both know that relationship is rotten to the core. No love loss after the abuse she has been hit with time after time. At least her mom finally made him leave. That's one good thing. But, is it really good? She has no idea where her brother is today. He could be dead. Last she heard he was living on with a friend and selling drugs.

Jackie goes to school and works at a little grocery store after. The money she earns each week goes not to her needs, but in her mother's hand. Whisky is the greatest need in their house. Jackie can't even call it a home.

She is proud of her grades. She makes straight As and hasn't missed one day of school in two years. School is just about all she has. No one knows where she lives. She has learned how to keep secrets. No one would ever guess where the scars came from on her arms. It gets hot wearing long sleeves all the time.

She tries to just mind her own business and keep quiet. She really doesn't like nosy people, but just today she realized, no one has been nosy in her life in a long time. Oh what she would give to have a friend to call at night when she is lonely. Just to go shopping with a girlfriend or have a boy take her to prom. She has almost but given up on those dreams. But she does dream. She dreams of a happy home, being surrounded by friends and family. Does that even exist?

Okay, she pulls into the church parking lot. Where should I park? Am I on time? I surely don't want to walk in late and have everyone look at me. Jackie decided she would just come to one church service and see what it was like. She's never even walked into a church before. Would Jesus even want her here today? Her heart is pounding she is afraid others can hear the beating.

She doesn't have a Bible. She's not even read a page out of a Bible. Her thoughts quickly go back to her friend who invited her. She always looks so nice and she's always surrounded by other kids. How should she say it? Her life looks really good from the outside. Something Jackie can't even imagine. What would it be like to have dinner at five O'clock like a family?

Alright, she pulls on the church door and it opens. Should she dare to walk through those holy doors? She does. Now the question of where to sit comes to mind. She looks around and she sees people being busy. It's almost like watching fluttering butterflies.

Well, she knows she isn't sitting in the front row. That just wouldn't be right. I'm sure those are saved for the good people. Jackie takes a seat near the back row corner. She notices more people are sitting closer to the back than the front row. Maybe she isn't the only visitor today. Just where is her friend? Her friend told her about the youth group and how awesome it is. Maybe her friend will be watching for her and invite her to sit next to her?

Ten minutes and service will begin. People pass by her in a flurry. Some laughing, others are hugging. Jackie spots her friend. She is with four other girls. They are moving up front. She catches the eye of her friend, Tammy. Tammy looks and keeps going with her friends. That's okay. Jackie is used to that by now, but for some reason she thought it would be different here. Church people are suppose to love, right?

The pastor enters and walks up with his Bible open. He begins reading scripture. He begins preaching. Isn't that what you call it? Anyway, not everyone is paying attention. Adults are chatting to one another and Jackie over hears the two ladies sitting in front of her speak about another woman. They aren't saying very nice things.

Jackie tries to focus on what the pastor is talking about. He's making his point about hypocrites. He's talking about how we should not only talk the talk, but walk the walk.

The sermon ends and now there is an alter call. Wow, people are really going forward to pray? Not in a million years would I go forward. No way. If I went forward people would see the truth right through me. They would know I don't belong here.

Church ends.

Jackie gets in line to walk out the front door. The pastor is standing there waiting to shake hands with people. Maybe he will invite her back? What will she say to him? She is just as nervous about leaving church as she was about walking in. She is almost to the pastor. He is hugging people and telling them it was good to see them.

Before Jackie gets to him, he gets a call and must walk away. Hmm..she doesn't even get to meet the pastor. Well that's okay. What would she say to him anyway?

Jackie finds her car as she walks past many people. Wow, this is a huge church. At least three hundred people. Jackie opens her car door and places her purse next to her. She sits for a bit just watching people as they leave with their families. How sweet it would be.

Her ride home is filled with thoughts. Just maybe her mom was right after all. Tammy didn't even act like she knew Jackie and what was going on with the ladies sitting in front of her? She is remembering the sermon. She recalls the smile on the pastor's face. What she isn't remembering is anyone speaking to her. She didn't even get a hello. It was as though no one noticed her at all. It's like she was the wallflower of the hour.

Part of her was hoping no one spoke to her, but that other part? Her heart was aching for someone to notice her. To invite her back. Maybe just say, "It's nice to have you join us today". This is why Jackie decides putting up a wall around her is what she should be doing. No one cares. Not her mother and surely not those church people.

Monday morning comes and she sees her friend, Tammy, in fifth hour again. Now Tammy talks to her. She asks, "What did you think of church?" Jackie answers with the only answer she knows. "Those church people need to listen a little closer to the sermon".

"This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another." 1 John 3:11

"We love each other because He loved us first." 1 John 4:19

"God showed how much He loved us by sending His One and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love-not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us." 1 John 4:9-12

Sadly, Jackie never entered a church building again. This was her invite and she got a look on the inside. It's what her mother told her to expect. She went in empty and came out just as empty. Her life went on just as it did before. Home, school and work. A drinking mother with a nasty right hook and a father who would be released from prison soon. A brother who found his way back home.

Just think what could have happened if one person. Just one had reached out to Jackie and made her feel welcome?

Dear Heavenly Father, please forgive us. Forgive us for not reaching out and sharing your love. Lord, help us to love everyone. Whether they are just like us or totally different. Help us to remove ourselves from the comfort of our circles and be the love of Christ to all we meet. May we have hearts filled with compassion. May we remember the first time we walked into church. Help us to walk with accepting hearts filled with love. You make all the difference, Lord. Use us to bring others closer to you. Change us to look more like You, Lord Jesus.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Feel Like Your Living In A Fish Bowl?

Over the weekend our family went out for fish and chips at a favorite restaurant. LOL Well, more like shrimp and fries. While waiting for our dinner plates to arrive overflowing,  I was watching two young children radiate around the fish tank. They would put their faces up to the glass and probe inside.. I smiled as I watched in fascination at them as they made face after face at the fish who were now all in a flutter. They began poking at the glass with their fingers. If possible I think they would have cheerfully pulled those fish right out of the tank and investigated them close up.

That finger pointing got to me. They were tapping with a fierceness to try to get the attention of the fish. Well, the fish would just scatter to the other side and what do you know? The kiddos would rush to the other side in hopes of..well I'm not sure what, but that got me  thinking about how many times I feel the poke of others. If I ignore the oncoming pokes, well sometimes people just seem to rush in every direction to try to get my attention or even more so my aggravation.

No matter where we are there is always someone watching. Most of the time there is one who is awaiting that opportunity to poke and point. The thing is, that poke isn't so much fun for the pokee.

Do you know that from inside the tank everything is magnified from the outside? As those little fish swim around and playfully mind their own business, whatever catches their eye in distraction outside that tank looks monstrous! Ever feel that way, yourself? When we are being aggravated  the situation at hand seems huge. It feels huge.

This is what it feels like to be picked on and bullied. Yes, judging others is just the same as bullying. It's not even having a thought of the other person's feelings. Even a look of disgust can bring one to tears. Oh, why do we allow ourselves to become to pious? Do you think it happens before we even realize it? At what point in life do we come to the realization that we are better than another? Is it because we see another stumble and because we have never made that tumble we can't relate and therefore we think we would never do such a thing? Oh friends, a stumble is a stumble. Most of us just stumble outside for everyone to witness, but those stumbles with the doors closed are one in the same.

I was picked on and bullied in my eighth grade year of school. I hated school. I was terrified and I never wanted to go back. It took me a long time to trust again. But even as adults we can feel pointed at and poked at. It's never fun. These children were having a grand time. In my heart I  wanted to go over and quiet the children down as their parents enjoyed their dinner in silence. My bullied self wanted to shout, "Stop!" My heart was just reminded of that enormous feeling of having someone stand there and poke at you in every way possible, with others standing near by and not doing anything to stop it.

Remember the woman who was about to be stoned to death for adultery? (John 8:1-11) She was being poked at and pointed at and was made a sceptical for all those standing near. She was judged by a jury of men who found her guilty. They were ready to stone her before the truth was out. It seems the truth didn't even matter much here. What about the man she was to be found with? Just where was the finger pointing in his direction? It almost sounds as if he too was doing some finger pointing. Until Jesus sees the woman standing in the center where the Pharisees decided to put her. Can you imagine her fear? Her shame? She was accused and found guilty. In this case, this was much more than about the woman. The Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus as well. Isn't that what finger pointers do?

But Jesus doesn't go along with their guilty verdict. In fact, the Bible says, "Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with His finger. When they persisted in questioning Him, He stood up and said to them, The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her." John 8:6b-7

Before we begin pointing and poking at others let us remember we are all sinners in need of grace. Before we judge another for an act let us remember at the foot of the cross we are all on level ground. Let us live and give the same grace that we ask for on a daily basis.

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23

"Therefore, any one of you who judges is without excuse. For when you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things." Romans 2:1

"Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13

If we are not careful we can live as the Pharisees with thought that we are better than others and can have our fingers locked and loaded, ready to shoot at the first offense. Might we simply live in love. Christ's love to be exact. There is no place for judgement from where we sit. Before a finger ever goes out to another and we utter, "Can you believe what she did?", may we remember that if not for the grace of God, there go I.

Whoops! Face First In The Mud

I find myself tripping a lot as of late and you know what? It's usually over my own feet or my own tongue. Both can cause me to trip in such a way that I am flat on my face in mud. Not a very pretty photo op. But, praise Jesus!  There before me, is the grace of God waiting. He not only forgives my fall, but the actions that caused my fall in the first place. Now that, sweet friends, changes the photo op to beautiful.

Before we get to that forgiveness, we must be aware of what made us trip. We often look back and blame in on something other than ourselves. This is where accountability comes in. I can be honest and say, accountability is a journey of maturing faith in Christ. I have not always held myself accountable. It's quite easy to find blame elsewhere. Agree?

With that said, He knows I'm going to trip. He knows exactly what's going to trip me up. Oh, He shows me where my feet are to step. He teaches me the way to walk either through it or around it, but if your like me, there are times we look to the Lord and say, "Hey, thanks, but I got this". How foolish I can be. Just who do I think I am? Well, if  I'm totally honest. I think I'm a girl who can do it all. Took me a long time of finding humility to realize, I cannot do anything worthy without Christ. Oh sure, I can do a whole lot, but nothing that has the lasting impact of eternity.

I mean I have to move right? God cannot use stagnant. He needs me to be available. I can only move in one direction at a time. with that said, I am either walking toward the Lord or away from Him. Even when I'm stagnant, there is no movement toward the Lord. In stagnant we find fear and we too find just laziness. Oh sure, we have good intentions to do the work of the Lord, but we get in those ruts and we just become couch potatoes. Expecting others to do it and if Satan has anything to do with it, accepting that we are useless to the kingdom of God. That is a crock if I have ever heard one. We can be used of God. We just have to be willing and make ourselves available.

So, as we make ourselves available we are going to trip at times. No matter how great my focus is, I'm still going to trip. Why? Because I'm a sinner. That's not an excuse. It's the truth and it's in that truth that we find the grace of God. It's in that truth we find compassion and forgiveness. We can't expect from others what we ourselves are not willing to give. I can't sit on the couch and expect someone else to feed me. If I'm not being fed, I need to feed myself.

I can wake up, turn on the Christian radio station, read my Bible, do my Yoga, read a bit, write a bit, and totally be in worship service at home. I'm serious, whether in the total silence of the day or if I crank up the radio, I can worship. Raise my hands in praise and just have a time with just me and the Lord. When I'm in my own little world, all seems pretty easy. When I shut out everything and everyone around me, my focus is spot on. I am that girl on a mission. But, this is not the mission God had in mind. I actually have to go out and face the world. Not only face it, but live Christ in it.

My trouble begins when I get bored and turn on the television. When the phone rings and that girlfriend has got some news that she just can't hold in any longer. Ugh..when anger hits and my day is no longer filled with things that bring me joy, but business and strife. It's when I'm right in the middle of something and there is someone at the door. Daisy needs to go outside for the thirteenth time and now since I haven't moved quick enough I have a mess to clean up in the floor. My hubs can disappoint me. The mail can come and there before me are unexpected bills. A letter from an aunt with failing health. The list can go on and on. Do ya hear me? Have you been there?

See, this is the real world. For me, I just have to keep focused no matter what comes. I can walk with joy even though the day is busy. I can still be reminded of God's glory when I'm on the fourth load of laundry. What is it? ATTITUDE..It's all in our attitude. No matter what comes. We may not be able to change the situation, but we can change our reaction.

How do we do this? Place scripture all over your home. Put those little sticky notes to good use. Lay your Bible open on your kitchen table. Open up a favorite book and keep it by your bedside. Here is the key. No matter what our day holds, begin each day by reading the Word of God. It makes all the difference in the world. Have a prayer list handy so you can turn to it as a reminder to pray for those who are hurting. What better way to use our time than be a blessing? If we are focused on praying for others, our need no longer seems so great.

Have a friend or a circle of friends help you be accountable in your day. Check in once a week with a scripture that has blessed you and share just how the Lord has kept you in His work and away from the temptations that are at every corner. There are many great Christian groups on facebook that you could go to for inspiration and encouragement. Friends, we can feel like there is no one there to lift us up and we might even feel forgotten by those around us, but we never have to feel this way. Open your heart and time and God will make a way for you to be blessed and for you to be a blessing to another.

We just have to stop complaining like spoiled children. Everything doesn't have to be perfect for us to worship Christ and to walk in joy. In fact, that's where faith comes in. We trust Him when things aren't perfect. It's through Him that we find perfection. He has a way of bringing peace and filling us with His presence.

When your walk gets long or you begin to stumble, reach to the One who created you and set your journey in place before you took your first breath.

"No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what He requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8

"Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered Himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God." Ephesians 5:1-2

"Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won't need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct." Galatians 6:4-5

"Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again-rejoice!" Philippians 4:4

Thursday, October 18, 2012

One Thousand Gifts Devotional by Ann VosKamp

Ann Voskamp is a blessing almost indescribable with words. Her words flow like no other. She has been gifted to share from a heart that is transparent. I was blessed to review, One Thousand Gifts, and I can tell you, to this day it is my favorite of all books I have held in my hands.

There is sweetness as she  brings the Word of God into full view through her life. There is beauty as she opens her hands in surrender to be used of God. In this devotional, you find sixty transforming devotionals, that will literally bring refreshing and uplifting encouragement to your heart.

You may think, well, I want a devotional for 365 days of the year. This devotional can take you through the year and beyond. I have highlighted pages, phrases and scripture. This is one of those books that you can go back a second time and be freed by new blessings.

In One Thousand Gifts, Ann took us on a journey through giving thanks. In this devotional she takes us on a journey of grace. We find that we cannot truly find grace until we find true thanks. It is through giving thanks that we find true peace. This is a journey every soul needs to take. These two books have blessed me like no others I have ever read. Really, I share with everyone how much One Thousand Gifts changed my life. I began my own list of thanks and through that I found a new way to walk with Christ.

On the cover of One Thousand Gifts we see a young soul holding a nest with eggs, just waiting to be born. In this newest devotional we see hands setting that bird free. I just love the visual this gives.

Its as though you open these pages and the words are raw on your heart. It's like uncovering yourself to be this free creature finding God's grace in our journey.  There is a beauty being created as we open our minds and hearts to the truths of God's Word and we are changed and molded into who God is creating us to be.

This book was a gift from Zondervan for my review.

Ann Voskamp is a farmer's wife, the home-educating mama to a half-dozen exuberant kids, and the author of the New York Times bestseller One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. She tells stories. She takes pictures. She sees the whole earth full of the glory of God. A columnist with DaySpring, a contributing editor to Laity Lodge’s The High Calling, and a writer of articles featured in WORLD Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Christianity Today, Ann partners with Compassion International as a global advocate for needy children. The poor have made her rich and telling the stories of those who need a voice has changed her own story. Ann can be found writing about messy grace and a magnificent God at her daily online journal: Visit Ann's website at:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mended by Angie Smith

This is the first book I have read by Angie Smith. I can tell you, I will now grab up others penned by her. Wonderful, beautiful and captivating. The sub-title, "Pieces Of A Life Made Whole", gives you a glimpse of the pages in your hand. This is a book of healing and finding God's heart in everything.

I read the first chapter and thought, oh this is so good. Read the second and thought, oh, this is my favorite. Got to the third and realized each chapter was going to bless me in a different way. This book is sheer beauty. I love how Angie asks us to take a jar and break it as she did. To then gather the pieces and "Peace" them together. Oh, the healing right there in that action. Mended is a book for every heart that needs healing.

This book is a journey through her blog pieces, through her life and even more so, through the life of Christ. He is alive throughout these pages.

I must share, I LOVED the chapter, "Honeysuckles and Fireflies". The tears flowed as I read these sweet words about Andrew and his baseball team in a field of dreams. My heart melted.

This is one of those books that is a keeper. One to go back to over and over again. Angie's words flowed with grace. I felt the mercies of God as I read each story. She begins each chapter with the sweet Word of God. She shares from her heart and then ends with a portion called Mending, which is so valuable in our journey of healing.

This is a book that is rich with the Word, written from a humble heart. Penned from a mighty woman of God are words that will help bring healing.

This book was a gift from B&H Publishing Group for my review.

Angie Smith is the wife of Todd Smith (lead singer of Dove Award winning group Selah), author of I Will Carry You and What Women Fear, and one of the most popular speakers and blog writers in the country. She holds a Master’s degree in Developmental Psychology from Vanderbilt University and lives with her husband and daughters in Nashville, TN.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

"When A Heart Stops" by Lynette Eason

Deadly Reunions continues with this second installment, When A Heart Stops. First, could you read this as a stand alone? Sure you could. It might take a few chapters to catch up and make sense of the characters, but my advice would be to begin with book 1, When The Smoke Clears. (Check out my review) It will help you have a better understanding of the characters and you will enjoy the story even more. We have new characters, but the old characters are still part of this story and they draw you closer to the new characters that are introduced. It too will give you a more in depth idea of the murders happening and the whys and whats of the characters.

I really enjoyed the continuing story and can't wait to see what is going to happen next with book 3. I have had the pleasure of reading all of Lynette's books and doing reviews on each one. It's like having a front row seat in her writing journey. Eason is brilliant at suspense and keeping the reader involved. This one is a page turner for sure. Serena and Dominic might be the main characters of this story, but there is much that unfolds.

We have Serena as the Medical Examiner and we have Dominic as the FBI agent working to find the serial killer. Now, if I had a serial killer after me, I'd love to have a Dominic watching my back. I'm just sayin'. These are works of fiction. There are parts that are believable and others that are stretched a bit, but that's fiction at it's best. I like to be drawn in to the what if and the mystery that unfolds.  I like to believe the impossible is not so far off.

If your searching for a great series, this is it! This is one that will keep you reading on and leave you wanting more.

This book was a gift from Revell for its review.

Lynette Eason is the author of several romantic suspense novels, including Too Close to Home, Don't Look Back, A Killer Among Us, and When the Smoke Clears. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. A homeschooling mother of two, she has a master's degree in education from Converse College. She lives in South Carolina.

Monday, October 15, 2012

It Could Have Been My Hand Reaching For The Fruit

We can read the account of Adam and Eve in the garden and place blame. Oh, how could they? How could Eve have listened? How could Adam have followed along? Why didn't he stop her? Why did she make the first move? The list of questions is endless. My point? It could have been my hand reaching for the fruit. I could have been there just as easily, listening to the serpent, taking in his words of deceit. Just like Eve, I could have blamed Adam. I could have refuted God and said it was all the serpents fault. (Genesis 3)

They lived in perfection. A sinless beauty surrounded them. Adam and Eve walked with the Lord. Then came the fruit of choice. A choice that led to sin and to the abrupt leaving of the garden. No more perfect beauty. Sin was to now to be part of the lives for generations to come.

Do you really think they thought about the impact they would make upon the world? Do you really think knew theirs was a choice that would lead to death? Had they taken it all for granted like we do today? Did they look at themselves and wonder, "Not me"?

God created them in complete perfection and gave them endless bounty, but through Satan's slithering words, it all came to a crashing halt. The hand that once walked with God was now reaching for a fruit of deception. They couldn't cover themselves quick enough. Now they could see the ugly. Nothing looked the same to their eyes that had been uncovered. They could now feel the emotion of shame. Guilt was inevitable. Blame was not to escaped.

This is why it is so important for us to be careful what we allow our eyes to see and our ears to hear. We must be wise in our walk. We are to walk in humility, not pride. Oh, how that pride fall seems longer and harder. But humilty comes with growth. I've had quite a few falls, and praise Jesus, He doesn't hold me down, but He picks me up and makes me stronger for the next steps. I'd rather fall into the arms of Jesus than off the side of a cliff. Humility is key in our Christian walk.

In life we look to the world as if we cannot understand how one could make the decision they have made. We wonder, "How in the world could she do that? Why did he do what he did?", and all too quickly we stand with the words rushing from our lips, "I would never do that". Lord, help us. We judge and we claim what punishment should be. We blame and forever and ever we run from being accountable for our own actions.

See, this unsaved world does not understand the Word of God. We look to the world as if we are amazed, but should we really be? If I remember correctly, I was once blind. I walked as the world.  Praise God for His sweet grace. If they are not looking to the Savior, if they cannot understand His will and Word, why would they choose differently? That's where our grace comes in. We are to live in this world, but not be part of this world. We are to be set apart, but yet still living in the midst of this unsaved land of hearts needing a Savior. We are to love with God's love. Not a judging eye or a pointing finger.

Too often, it is us, those who are saved, that are doing the the judging. We look to the world and can see wrong in every direction, but what about in our own garden of life? It might be time to do our own weeding. What about in our own surroundings? The difference? We know God's Word and yet we ignore the Holy Spirit's calling. We ignore His commands and we choose NOT to love with a heart like His. We can think that we are better. Dear Christian, we are not better. At the foot of the cross we are all on level ground. I am a sinner in need of God's grace daily. Who am I to judge another or call them out on their walk, when I in fact, am not walking as I should?

Our perfect garden is awaiting us on the other side of heaven. The only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ. There is no other way. We can't make our own way and there is a sweet beauty in that fact. The sweet beauty is realizing I must surrender all to my Savior. I must allow Him my life to build His garden. I plant the seeds and He grows the harvest. He is creating a beautiful garden. Too majestic for our eyes to take in while here in this world, but it is waiting for us.

We must stop living in judgement and stop placing blame. It's time we stand and be accountable for our own actions. We don't need to tell another they aren't a Christian. What I need to do is simply live in God's love. I need to be an outflow of His grace. I need to allow forgiveness to be part of my walk. I must stop looking at others with eyes of the world and see them as Christ sees them.

Pride is that quiet voice that says, "I wouldn't do that". I have been there, my friend. I have spoken those words loudly and it wasn't too soon that I was on my knees asking the Lord, "Please forgive me of that". Those fingers we point at others have a way of coming right back at us quick as an arrow.

I don't want others judging me when I step wrong. I have twisted my ankle many times because I have stumbled. After that stumble, I may limp for a bit. I may have to stay off of for a time. But I will walk again and hopefully, with new eyes I will watch my step and make sure I don't stumble over that temptation again.

If I have stumbled, I don't others to kick me when I'm down and make sure they point to what made me fall. I can pretty much figure that one out on my own as the Lord gives me a clear picture. I need others to lift me up. To encourage me in my walk. To give me a hand and help me balance myself.

The garden isn't so far off. We have Adam and Eve to remind of what can happen we when stumble, but we too have God's reminder of His sweet grace. Yes, with circumstance comes consequences. May we allow God to do the humbling and may we join Him in the encouraging.

How is a garden created? One blossom at a time.

"For the Word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes, and He is the One to whom we are accountable."
Hebrews 4:12-13

"God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago."
Ephesians 2:8-10

"But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!"
Galatians 5:22-23

"If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are NO different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure."
1 Corinthians 10:12-13


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...