One Way To Achieve Perfection

one way to achieve perfection

I Am Perfect!

Have you achieved perfection? Can you say this with me? I…Am…Perfect!

Something just goes in sideways, doesn’t it? If you want to know what true perfection is and how to achieve it, then here’s how.

First, let’s define true perfection. We have been bombarded for so long by the world’s idea of perfect that we seriously can’t bring ourselves to even think we could be. I recently taught at a Women’s Conference about the struggle we have trying to measure up to the world’s definition of perfection. I showed them a poster of an ad for a major retailer with a tall, beautifully tanned young woman in a tight-fitting black dress. She had long, flowing wavy hair. Her eyes were gorgeous and her face flawless. Her skin was smooth and without blemish and even her feet in little strappy sandals looked perfect! I asked the question,

“What if you wanted to go on vacation to paradise and the cost was physical perfection?
How many of us would be able to pay the world’s price?”

Certainly not me. I was born with Irish pale skin with some Cherokee Indian spots scattered about. Most people think these are freckles, but nope…I prefer to say that’s my Indian skin from my momma’s side of the family.

On top of that, I have coarse white hair that miraculously turns blonde every 3 weeks or so. About 20 pounds of extra weight affords me some unwanted love handles and arm flab. I’m 5’4″ so I’ve never had long thin legs like the supermodels and my face is reaching 60 years’ worth of worrying and fretting, producing plenty of lines and wrinkles.

I could buy the sexiest dress, pay a plastic surgeon to stretch my face back out, and put on a long, flowing wig of lustrous hair, and I would just look like I was dressing up for Halloween. Perfect? Not in a million years!

Conclusion #1: The world’s definition of perfect is ridiculous!

According to the world then, physical perfection is definitely not achievable for me. But let’s change the cost and say the price to paradise was spiritual perfection? Could I afford it then? Let’s take a look.

I was born with impatience. I know because momma told me so. I’ve never quite gotten the hang of being patient in a grocery line or behind a slow driver. If we walk into a store and it’s a madhouse, my husband will very gently take my elbow in hand and lovingly whisper in my ear, “Calm down. We’ve got all day. No need to be in a hurry.” But see, to me, time is not the issue. When you’re impatient, you simply don’t like to wait. It’s get in and get out with no obstacles in your way. Doesn’t matter if I’m in a hurry or not. I just don’t want to go slow! Since I’m pretty sure patience is a gift from God’s Spirit, to be impatient means I’m lacking in spiritual perfection, so let’s try something else.

I might be…just maybe slightly…quick tempered when it comes to bad customer service or incompetent hospital staff. Those two things don’t go together, but nothing will set my teeth on edge quicker than talking to a person on the phone or behind a counter that absolutely missed the training that the customer is ALWAYS right or they are rude and condescending. It’s also hard for me to stand by and watch incompetent nursing staff or physicians who don’t have the time of day to care for my loved one as they should. I think excellent nurses and caring doctors should have a very honored place in heaven. There were some who took care of my sister before she passed away that should get into heaven for free! And then there were others who…well, let me move on.

Needless to say, I forget sometimes that Christians are supposed to love and that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal. Yeah, it’s looking like I missed out on the spiritual perfection, as well.

Conclusion #2: Spiritual perfection is too hard for me to reach.

Do you struggle with not feeling good enough?

I’m figuring you are in the same boat, right? You probably don’t have to think very long for why you don’t measure up either. The point of this article is not to make us feel worse, but to show why we are in desperate need of saving. God has created a paradise called heaven. At the end of our lives, we can go there, but the bottom line is that the price for paradise or heaven is spiritual perfection. There’s no evil there, which means no sinful person will be allowed in. Makes sense to me. I don’t want to go if there are murderers or liars there, but that also leaves out my impatience and quick temper. If that’s the case, then how will we ever pay the price so God will allow us into our eternal home?

Have you ever had someone pay for your dinner or had a friend give you a gift they saw in a store that reminded them of you? Doesn’t that feel good? I love color and because my daughter knows me so well, her gifts to me are usually very colorful and bright. And then there was the time, my kids gave my kitchen and bathroom a makeover. I went out of town and came home to an updated kitchen with a gorgeous tile mosaic of a bright yellow sun behind my stovetop. Every time I cooked in that kitchen, I felt so special and loved. It’s a huge blessing when someone goes out of their way to bless us.

How about someone paying for your vacation?

I remember years ago when my kids’ dad and stepmom paid for them to go on a cruise to Cancun, Cozumel, and Honduras. There were 14 people in all! Wow, what an extravagant gift.

Well, guess what? Someone has paid the price for you to go to paradise. God is not like the world! Both demand perfection, but the difference is God didn’t set this impossible standard and leave us without hope. He did something about it. He sent His Son, who is perfect, to come to earth and pay our way. Jesus left heaven and lived on earth without every sinning. The Bible says this about Him in 1 John 3:5 –

“You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.”

Jesus exchanged our imperfection with his perfection. At the end of your life, how will you get to heaven? By accepting His payment! God determined the cost and then gave us the money to pay for it.

Solution: There is only one way to achieve perfection.

Hide your life in Jesus. Colossians 3:3 says,

“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”

If you have accepted Jesus’ death in payment for your sins, then you are now perfect in the eyes of God. Whenever you turn your face toward heaven to cry out for help or pray for others, God sees Jesus’ perfection reflecting back and says, “Come into my arms, my child, and tell me what you need.”

If you want to achieve perfection in God’s eyes, it only takes a moment to ask Jesus to come into your life and declare you perfect. You can read more about how to do this in My Story.

Maybe you’ve accepted Jesus’s gift, but you still struggle with feeling imperfect in either how you look physically or how you measure up spiritually. The truth is not one single person deserves heaven, but that’s why it’s called the Good News! It doesn’t depend on you. God wants you to see yourself as He sees you, perfected through His Son.

If you can realize today that He created you with special gifts and talents and you are beautiful and perfect in His sight, then congratulations! You have achieved perfection.

Now, let’s say it again. I…Am…Perfect because of Jesus!

Find Joy Again By Letting Jesus Have The Lead

Find Joy Again By Letting Jesus Have the Lead

Does it seem sometimes like life is a party and everyone but you is having a good time? While others seem to dance through life, you keep finding yourself on the sidelines or dancing with the wrong partner. This article will help you get back to dancing with the best partner ever and you will find joy again by letting Jesus have the lead.

We were never meant to be alone and I’m not talking about needing a spouse here. God created us to have relationship with Him and His Son, Jesus, who loves to celebrate life with His creation. The scriptures are full of joyful celebrations and dancing. It saddens God to see one of his daughters left out and struggling to find reasons to be happy. He longs to take us by the hand and show us how to find joy again, but first He must teach us how to dance.

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy…
Psalm 30:11

Sometimes in the evening when nothing else is on, we turn the channel to Dancing With The Stars (DWTS). We’ve watched this show for several years and have learned a bit about what the judges look for. Whether it’s the tango, rumba, or ballroom dancing, the judges give the same critiques over and over. As I watched the other night, I pondered about how their dancing expertise could be applied to life and our relationship with God. If you struggle in life, then maybe these dance tips can help you find joy again as you learn to let Jesus lead.

Tip #1: There must be a leader and a follower.

The leader leads and the follower follows. That’s pretty simply, right? We see in most cases, the leader is usually a male and for some pretty good reasons. A man’s body strength is necessary in order to carry the weight of his partner through all the lifts and turns. As men are most often taller than women, they have a height advantage good for balance and positioning. But even with these advantages, the leader must still have a partner who will allow him to lead.

According to Wikipedia, “The Lead is responsible for guiding the couple and initiating transitions to different dance steps and, in improvised dances, for choosing the dance steps to perform.[1]  This means that the leader has the burden to not only know the moves, but to initiate the necessary steps that are required to perform a certain style of dance and even when the dance is spontaneously performed, the leader must know what independent dance steps go together in order to flow and appear flawlessly easy. Just imagine for a moment, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers on your television screen with his top hat and her flowing gown. When expertly done, dancing is a beautiful site to behold and it’s even more wonderful to be the actual dancers!

The point of this tip is that in all the joys and trials of life, we must allow Jesus to lead and then follow His every move. I know in my own personal life that when I try to take the lead, I usually trip up and fall flat on my keister! Maybe if life went smoothly all the time, I might be able to do it on my own…yeah, I think not…but we all know it doesn’t go smoothly. We can be getting along great with our spouse and suddenly find ourselves signing divorce papers. We’re at the peak of health one day and hearing the word cancer the next. Our savings account can be padded at the end of last month and the dryer and hot water heater crashes this month.

Life is complicated and hard sometimes and we need a strong leader to guide us through all the twists and turns and we must become good followers. Who better to lead us than the very One who designed our life? Jesus knows what will happen tomorrow and what steps need to be taken, which leads us to the next tip.

Tip #2: Dancing requires interpreting your partner’s moves and responding appropriately.

In an article written by Ian Crewehe says, “Today, leading is more synonymous with ‘guiding’, while following is more like ‘interpreting’. The leader initiates a move, then stays with his partner and moves with her through the pattern.”

As mentioned above, life is unpredictable. We don’t know what the future will bring or even what will happen in the next few minutes, but Jesus does. Our job is to stay in communication with Him and learn to interpret what He is leading us to do. Most of the time, it’s not as hard as people think. As we study the Bible and spend time with Him, we become quicker at interpreting His instructions. We’re able to respond with the appropriate steps without missing a beat. Just like taking our next breath, it becomes second nature and we exhibit more confidence with every victory. We aren’t out in the world all alone having to figure out what to do next. Jesus loves us enough to teach us what to do. As we interpret and respond, He provides the strength and power to accomplish it.

Tip #3: Don’t be afraid to show emotion and passion.

As we dance through life, our emotions are going to get dirty and suffer some bumps and bruises. There was a time in my life when I closed myself off from emotion. Pain caused me to harden my heart, not allowing me to feel anything. As I let God heal me, I discovered that killing my emotions was not living at all because inside I was dead.

I discovered that even when our dancing clothes get a bit dirty and our heart is broken, He can breathe life inside us again!

If we shut down our emotions, yes, we lock out pain, but we also lock out the possibility to feel joy. We don’t need to shut down so as to avoid pain because God will always bring good out of it if we give it to him (Romans 8:28). He will heal us and and clothe us in beauty and our joy will return as we follow His lead. He is passionately in love with us and wants us to be passionately in love with Him. Ask Him to heal your hurts and unlock the door to your emotions! Find out how He has gifted you and what causes you to smile, then step out and live a joyful and passionate life!

A final word. Life is worth living and there is much to be joyful about. My granddaughter gave me a pillow for Christmas last year and I love reading it everyday. It is a constant reminder that “There are so many beautiful reasons to be happy.”

Don’t go another day trying to dance this life alone. Jesus, who is the bright and morning Star wants to be your dance partner. So, get back to dancing and find joy again by letting Jesus have the lead. He absolutely adores you and thinks you look beautiful in your dancing shoes. Step into His arms and show the world how good you can dance!

 

Why Me, God?

Spiritual and emotional healing

Is your life like mine, marked by too many sad stories, too many bad choices?  Does your heart look like someone is using it for target practice?

Starting in early childhood, I was ridiculed for the way I looked.  I was skin and bones with a fair, freckled complexion. I didn’t go on a date until I was a senior in high school.  My parents divorced after 30 years of marriage leading to the sudden death of my dad 6 months later.  I wrote in my journal, “My dad died today of a broken heart.” I was only 16.  I have also been through the heartache of miscarriage and divorce, and the debilitating stress of financial ruin, just to name a few. As a single mother of 3 with a boatload of self-loathing, I set out on a mission to prove to the world that I was worthy of a man’s love. I took as my mantra what another troubled friend told me after my divorce, “You gotta go out there and use men before they have the chance to abuse you.”  Without going into detail, you can only imagine the places that led me.  Because of my own choices and the damage caused by others who hurt me, I became a very miserable young woman. An older and much wiser friend said to me one day with all the love he could muster, “Darlene, if you don’t get rid of that bitterness and anger, it will eat you up like a cancer.”

I walked away from him thinking how dare he!!!  He doesn’t know what I’ve been through! But then something strange happened.  I began to hear what he was talking about.  As I interacted with family and friends, I discovered I couldn’t say hello without a sarcastic and hateful tone. Everything coming out of my mouth was tainted with ugliness. I went back to that friend and very gently, he spent the next 2 years leading me to the cross of Jesus.  In one seemingly mundane moment, I prayed a prayer that changed the rest of my life forever.  I asked Jesus to take over and forgive me.  I asked him to rescue me from my past and every moment since, I have endeavored to become the person God meant me to be.

Several years after that prayer, I went through a season of questioning my life. Like a child who constantly asks why, I bombarded God with an interrogation of why I had to suffer so much?  Finally, I asked God, “Couldn’t you have saved me from just one thing? What was it all for?” He lovingly replied, “2 Corinthians 1.”

I grabbed my bible and began to read chapter 1 and it was as if God shined a flashlight on verses 3 and 4.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

It all fell into place.  I thought about how God had brought women across my path that suffered from the same things as me. Rejection, ridicule, unfaithfulness, divorce, financial stress, loss, insecurity, not to mention the choices they made out of brokenness.  Being vulnerable in sharing my life, I had comforted them and given them hope. God showed me that, although He didn’t cause my pain, He used those things to make me a stronger woman overall, and could also comfort others through me if I was willing.  Boy, was I willing!

Life got exciting after that.  God sent me as a missionary using me in cross-cultural ministry to women in several foreign countries. I discovered life’s problems look and feel the same no matter where you live. The first glimpse of what God had in store happened when I was walking home one night in Ternopil, Ukraine after teaching a Bible study. My translator and I were talking when suddenly, she blurted out her problems. Almost word for word, she described many of the things I had been through.  I told her how I learned to apply scripture to my situations and how God helped me.  Over the next few years, her life transformed into a purposeful ministry helping orphans around the world.

Since that night, I have never questioned God again.  Just this morning during my devotional time, I read this quote in the book, Streams In The Desert by L. B. Cowman.

God comforts us not to make us comfortable but to make us comforters (John Henry Jowett).”

I haven’t forgotten one moment of the suffering, but God has taken out the sting. I can share it as fact without feeling the shame and guilt I once felt.  God’s forgiveness working with my own forgiveness of myself and others has changed all the anger and bitterness into love and compassion.  I wish my elderly friend were still around to see it.

Are you questioning why?  We all have stories to tell of pain and heartache.  The real question is what will you do with them? Will you live life as the victim or will you allow God to heal you and use your story to help someone else?

I encourage you to spend time talking to God.  If you don’t have a relationship with him, please read my article entitled My Story. It will introduce you to Jesus and to a heavenly Father who adores you.  From there, spend time reading the Bible and asking Him to show you what to do.  Find a local women’s bible study group that will provide a place for you to heal and grow.

Could God have saved me from at least one thing?  Yes, but then how would I know what to say when another woman like me wants healing and a life filled with purpose. It makes it all worthwhile! Why indeed!

Designer vs. Knock-Off

Don’t Accept The Devil’s Substitutes.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
John 10:10

Recently, God spoke to me about one very devious way the devil works in the lives of Christians. It has to do with us experiencing an authentic heart-changing life versus a fake and lifeless substitute, or another way of saying it is God’s designer life versus the devil’s knock-off. The devil understands there are some who will pay the price for authenticity and others who will settle for a cheaper version. If he can’t stop us from becoming a Christ-follower, he will try and get us to buy into his substitute for all things spiritual.

We see this played out everyday in the marketing world as advertisements try to entice us to buy the latest and greatest things. Because of a need to impress and keep up with the Joneses, people go into heavy debt buying the more expensive designer clothing or the latest name-brand item on the market. A few months ago I fell for this when I bought into the overrated hype of the Yeti cup. I spent $30 when I should have spent $9.74 for an Ozark Trail cup that works just as well. Afterward, I swore not to ever fall for those advertising gimmicks again. Yeah, right!

This phenomenon plays out on our TVs as celebrities sway down the Red Carpet in designer clothing such as:

Christian Dior Couture
Louis Vuitton
George Chakra Couture
Armani Privé.

You would never see the rich and famous wearing a knock-off outfit at the Oscars. The whole point is to impress the audiences with whose gown, handbags, shoes, and jewelry they are donning. We watch with anticipation as Ryan Seacrest asked each one whose clothing they are wearing, as if we intended to go out the next day and purchase it ourselves.  

The regular folks of our society can’t afford such glamour, but we have the same struggle with self-image and importance. I remember my daughter and her family trying out a new church. She said almost every woman in the service had on a pair of Miss Me Jeans. This is not to insinuate that the church isn’t a good one, but it could make someone in Levi’s feel uncomfortable and it also goes to show that even Christians like to look good. My family will occasionally peruse the clothing racks at Goodwill and it’s like we’ve hit the lottery when we discover a famous-brand of shirt or jeans at a fraction of the original cost. We all want to impress with our dress, but not all can spend that kind of money, so second-hand stores have risen in popularity to help us accomplish it.

The point I’m trying to make is that society as a whole places a high value on designer goods and will pay the necessary cost to impress and fit in. So, if we spend so much money on physical things, why would we buy into a cheap knock-off and not insist on a designer-brand spiritual life? 

When I say designer, of course, I am referring to God who designed a life for each one of us. I thought about the differences between His designer church and the devil’s knock-off. In scripture, we see stories of Christians meeting in the temple and in homes. We only have to take note of what happened during those meetings to know what an authentic, God-designed gathering looked like. The lost heard the gospel and found forgiveness and salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. The broken were mended through unconditional love and emotional restoration. People encouraged and served one another as their giftings were applied. If someone was sick, the elders anointed them with oil and prayed for healing. When someone had a financial need, they gave sacrificially so that no one would go without food, shelter, or clothing. Miracles were common and expected. They regularly ate together. They worshiped and honored God with all their heart and lives and the world sat up and took notice.

People got a life changing, scripture teaching, need providing, healing oasis
in the middle of a desert.

What does the devil’s substitute look like? It appears pretty much the same, but is dead. A sermon is preached, but there is no life-changing power in the words. It’s not a message received from time with the Lord, but may be one taken from the internet or brought from the archives to be regurgitated out again. We can’t put all the blame on the pastors because their congregations run them ragged, which doesn’t allow them time in the word and prayer in order to hear a message from God. Jesus brought us back to life by the power of His Spirit; however, the devil’s service looks more like a funeral instead of a celebration of new life. Because of the powerless messages, rarely do we see people find faith in Jesus. Weekly meetings are labeled worship services, yet there is little worship going on. Church attendance is more out of habit or obligation and there is little love alive in the hearts of the people. They show up every week because that is what good Christians do. As they sing their songs, they fall victim to the devil’s substitute that equates mere singing as worship. The words that express such great love and mercy never stir their emotions or produce any signs of gratefulness.

The devil’s church offers only the skeleton of Christianity,
killing the heart and lives of its members.

Ah, but it’s not just church services that have fallen victim. We find his substitutes in everyday life. We now have a world where living out your faith could cost you your business or get you fired. Christians are portrayed as intolerant, hateful, and downright crazy and as a result, instead of being the brave ambassadors for Christ, we allow fear to silence us. Afraid of ridicule, persecution, or even a lawsuit, we believe the devil’s lie that our relationship with God is a personal one, so it’s not necessary to share it with others, but oh, my friend, it is necessary! How shall they hear without someone telling them? The lost aren’t flocking to our churches, so it’s time we flock to them.

We must reject the devil’s knock-offs and start paying the price to walk in God’s authentic and heart-changing designer life. It will require valuing the things of God more than the things of this world and spending more time in His presence. As He fills us with His authority and power, our churches will once again become that oasis offering His life-giving salvation to a thirsty and dying world. Then we will see more prodigals come home to their heavenly Father and the broken mended back together. Families will start talking around the dinner table about what God did on Sunday morning or during the week at work and school.

The world is watching. As Christians, we are walking across a red carpet stained by the blood of our slain Savior, who paid the ultimate price to give us an exciting and power-filled life. Whose garment are we wearing? Is it the designer’s brand or the devil’s? We will never be world-changers with a knock-off spiritual life! Let’s tell God we want to live the life He designed for us so we can step out onto the world’s stage and boldly show them what true life really is!

Until next time,

Blessings!

P.S. If you would like to experience God’s designer life for yourself, please go to my page, My Story.

Trusting In God Instead of Yourself

Relying On God To Pay Your Bills

Are you struggling financially? Is money so tight, you have to watch every penny that’s spent? In this economy, many women have a hard time finding a good-paying job. Due to a high divorce rate, wives and mothers are left without financial means, suddenly having to find ways to cut monthly expenses like cable bills, phone plans, and insurance coverage just to have enough money to buy food and gas. If you’ve ever used a calculator while putting groceries in the basket to make sure you have enough money, then you know what it is to be financially stressed. Having to stretch every dollar is no fun! While friends and family talk about the latest restaurant they ate at, you smile and think about how many times you’ve had to eat Ramen noodles because you didn’t have extra money to dine out.

A few years ago, I found myself in this type of situation. I was in my early 50’s, life was pretty normal, and then my marriage of 27 years ended. Suddenly, overnight, I was pinching pennies. I had not worked outside of ministry for many years and it was scary to think about having to be the sole provider for myself and Emma, my dog. I had a pretty hefty mortgage payment, along with utilities and grocery costs. Every night while trying to sleep, nagging thoughts would invade my peace as I wondered who would hire me over a younger woman. What if I get sick? How would I afford the doctor bill or medicine? What if I lose my home or my electricity gets turned off? All these what-ifs made me feel helpless and afraid.

As a Christian, I knew my first step needed to be praying and asking God to help, so I prayed…a lot! In order to give him something to work with, I immediately started looking for work. I love to cook, so I emailed my resume to a local catering company hoping they wouldn’t notice my age and would simply hire me based solely on my love for all things food, and lo and behold, they did. I started part-time in their small lunch cafe and eventually worked as part of their catering team. I’d never waited tables in my life, but by the grace of God, I did it. I loved the work, but it certainly didn’t pay all my bills, so I kept praying. I began making crafts to sell on Etsy and for some reason, people bought them. I took any kind of side job I could and month after month, God kept paying my bills on time.

For two years, God and I worked together and even though it was tight, I never went without a meal or had my utilities cut off.  I was able to stay in my home and was even able to keep feeding my precious Emma. Thinking back on those months, I couldn’t explain how God did it if my life depended on it. It was nothing short of miraculous!

When tax time rolled around, I had a dilemma because I had never done my own taxes. Before the divorce, we always had someone else do them. So, I took my file to our CPA and he began flipping through the tax receipts.  With this kind of shocked look on his face, he looked up and said, “Is this all you made?” He felt so sorry for me that he gave me a discount on his services. I walked out of that office thanking God for apparently doing what in reality must have been impossible.

Fast-forward now to the end of that 2 years of totally relying on God to when I discovered how quickly we can become self-reliant again. After what I thought was a complete restoration and healing from the divorce, I met and married my wonderful husband, Marshall. He was making a good living, so after we were married, I quit all my jobs and looked forward to being a housewife again. But, soon after I quit work, fear took hold and I started thinking about what would happen if Marshall left me. Somehow I forgot that God had been my provider and so, I determined that no man was going to leave me destitute again and decided to get at least a part-time job. Of course, I didn’t say it that way to my husband. I just said it would be nice to have some extra income, so I prayed and asked God to help me find another job and in His mercy, He did. With a close friend’s help, I was hired as a medical language specialist for her company. I got to work from home and set my own hours. It was a dream job for me. It paid pretty well and several years passed by without any signs of something lurking in a dark corner of my heart.

A few months ago, I began to sense God telling me I needed to quit my job and gear back up for full-time ministry. I was already teaching a women’s weekly Bible study, but God wanted to expand my teaching and speaking through the avenue of a blogging website. I thought to myself that if I quit, I wouldn’t have “my own” money. If I quit, what if something happened to Marshall? So, as all good daughters of God do, I ignored Him…for 6 months! And then one night, we were sitting around the table at our friends’ house and I heard myself saying in a rather rebellious tone, “I don’t want to let go of my job because I’m never going to allow a man to make me destitute again!” Oh dear! I’m surprised lightning bolts didn’t strike me dead.

Over the next few weeks, God very gently touched that dark place in my heart and I realized how ungrateful I had become. I got out my journals and read through those 2 years’ worth of writing down what God had done for me and I was humbled and ashamed. He reminded me about the time when my mortgage was due and an unexpected check arrived in the mail in the exact amount I needed. I read about the countless friends and family who slipped money into my hand or into an encouraging card at just the right time when I needed to buy groceries. Reading page after page, I cried and thanked God for taking care of me when it seemed to me like an impossible task.

I immediately turned in my notice and I’m working full-time on my Bible study and blog. To add an exclamation point to this lesson, a couple of weeks after quitting, I learned the company I worked for was in trouble and in the process of laying off a lot of their employees. Because I listened and obeyed, God was able to place me on a new path before the old one could be taken from me.

Through His gracious work in my life, I discovered that every earthly thing we trust in is subject to change. A good job can be taken away. A marriage can end, but God is the only One who does not change! He is always there and is always willing to provide if we trust in Him. Thanks to His persistence in not giving up on me, I finally let go of the senseless notion that I could trust in myself and I’m back to relying on God.

What would you say if I asked who pays your bills? If your answer is anything or anyone other than God, you are on shaky ground. I urge you to take a moment to pray and ask God for help in paying your bills. As He begins to work, He may ask you to make some tough financial decisions and you may not drive a Cadillac or eat ribeye steaks, but if you rely on God and do what He tells you to do, you will soon be able to sleep peacefully at night knowing every bill is paid.

Until next time,

Blessings!

What To Do Before Life Knocks The Breath Out Of You

On this journey through life, there are emotional flutters that cause us to gasp for air.  As home buyers, we gasp as we sign our name on the dotted line while contemplating 30 years’ worth of mortgage payments. We skip a breath as we sign the restaurant ticket for that meal that costs more than we thought.  But one day, my signature signaled the beginning of some real breathing issues accompanied by severe emotional distress. Sitting in an attorney’s office, I signed my name on court papers executing the end of a 27-year-long marriage. One year before I was in full-time ministry and the next year divorced. Oh, there had been signs of its failing for several years, but when you’re a Christian, you just sweep them under a rug and trust they will disappear somehow. You know the drill, ignore and hope it goes away. You cry when you’re alone and smile around others until the devastation creeps back out from under that rug and suddenly knocks the breath out of you. Anyone who has experienced serious devastation of any kind knows what I’m talking about. Your heart starts beating way too fast and you can’t catch your breath. Your emotions go on overload. How do you prepare for something you never thought would happen? Is there an insurance policy for emotional devastation?

We are taught to prepare for physical disasters. The bank says we need homeowner’s insurance. The government tells us we must carry health insurance and car insurance. Recently, I drove to our local insurance company and handed over a ridiculous amount of money just in case I have an automobile accident. We pay an even greater amount in order to prepare for “an act of God” or other disaster, such as a flood or fire to our home. Yes, all of us prepare for physical devastation in one way or another. There is life insurance, accidental death insurance, and even alien abduction insurance. I’m not kidding, look it up! Billions of dollars are paid out every year because the reality of becoming a victim of some type of destructive event seems downright inevitable. But what about preparing for the emotional fallout?  Along with any type of loss comes the crushing blow to our hearts and there is no insurance for that.

So, how do we prepare for something that literally comes and takes the breath right out of us, especially when it gives us no warning that it’s coming? Devastation doesn’t care what neighborhood you live in, how much money you make, or who your parents are. Whether it’s the loss of a marriage, your home, or the death of a loved one, we all experience pain. We grieve, we cry, and we ask why.

So how do we prepare for those devastating moments?

Bottom line is we need to establish relationship now with the One who gives us breath and who can restore our lives from any kind of devastation that might hit us.
“This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! (Ezekiel 37:5, NLT)

I have been a Christian now for more than 30 years, but it was only about 20 years ago when I developed an intimate and consistent relationship with God. I began setting aside a time every day to read what He had already said in the Bible and talk to Him about my daily life. I developed the habit of journaling my conversations with God and recording what He said to me during our time together. It was amazing to learn that the God of the universe wasn’t just sitting on His throne in heaven, but that He desired to commune with me and be a part of my life. He taught me how to trust Him in the little things first and then eventually to trust Him for bigger things. I learned that God is the only One who can fix a devastated life.

As my heart shattered into a million pieces over my marriage ending, I was already prepared and instinctively knew where to turn.  After that day in the attorney’s office, I took about 2 weeks to be alone with God. I poured out my heart and then waited to hear what He said. Never once did he condemn me, but His words were always filled with love and understanding. I would go to bed at night asking something specific and get up the next morning only to read the answer in a devotional book or scripture. He was there for every step of my recovery. God gave me wisdom on how to handle my finances or the lack thereof and I was able to pay my bills every month. I still wonder in awe at how He did that. I hurt my arm during that time and didn’t have the money to go to a doctor. I prayed asking God to heal it and spent several months just thanking Him in faith and doing what He told me to do…and my arm was healed. Walking with me through the wreckage of my emotions, God mended the pieces of my broken heart and I am stronger and more prepared for anything the future holds.

Today, I am blessed beyond anything I could have imagined. God has rebuilt my life and I am now married to a wonderful and godly husband, who loves me in spite of the wear and tear of the past. God has called me back into full-time ministry according to 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 that says God comforts us in all our troubles, so we can comfort others with the comfort we ourselves have received. He is using my story to encourage others to let God not only repair the damage done, but to help them breathe again as He heals their emotions.
We are never alone. God is with us and promises to comfort our hearts and give us the strength to bear up under any crushing weight. Because we are in relationship, He will place His arms around us and provide whatever we need until our emotions are back on solid ground. There will be many times in life when the breath will be knocked out of you and the loss will seem too heavy to bear at first, but if you will walk out every day hand-in-hand with God, in the good times and the bad, you will be prepared to overcome your devastating moment and breathe a deep and joyously happy breath again.
Until next time,
Blessings!
P.S. If you do not yet have relationship with God, may I encourage you to read my page, My Story, and let me introduce you to His Son, Jesus, who is the giver of life and breath. He will breathe into you a life of peace and true contentment.